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How can cognitive distraction cause car accidents?

If you are like many motorists in Texas and throughout the United States, you often have your cellphone close by while you are driving. Studies show, however, that talking on your cellphone while behind the wheel is extremely dangerous, even if you are using a hands-free cellular device. In fact, any type of cognitive distraction puts drivers at risk of becoming involved in a major car accident.

What is cognitive distraction? This type of distraction occurs when you are concentrating on anything other than the task at hand, including talking on a cellphone, texting, composing email, taking selfies, handling children in the back seat, listening to the radio and even talking to other passengers in the vehicle.

Why are distractions so dangerous? According to the National Safety Council, the human brain cannot engage in two tasks simultaneously, but rather switches back and forth between tasks. For instance, if you are maintaining a conversation on a cellphone and driving, you will have an intermittent focus on each task. This back and forth focus causes a lapse in concentration, and can leave moments in time where the driver isn’t thinking about the road at all. Talking on a cellphone and driving may result in a decreased response time to bad weather conditions, pedestrian crosswalks, traffic signals and hazards in the road. While some driver distractions are unavoidable, it is best to eliminate engaging in tasks that are not necessary.

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.

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