One University of Iowa researcher says the human brain is limited to what it can focus on and science shows driving while doing other activities pulls the driver’s mind away from the road.
Shaun Vecera, a UI psychology professor and researcher, told a Senate Transportation Committee the brain cannot focus on everything at once meaning humans fall prey to selective attention, where an event or object goes unnoticed as the brain is focused on something else. This “inattentional blindness” means although something occurs it can go unnoticed by someone focusing on something else. Vecera said this cognitive limitation means driving while talking on the cell phone “has serious implications for driving behavior” and greatly increases the chances of an accident. Public safety officials say distracted driving is a growing concern and have pushed for ways to better enforce state driving laws. Following the presentation, Chairman Sen. Tod Bowman, D-Maquoketa, said it’s concerning all of the distractions Iowa drivers face on the road. He said it’s important that drivers and legislators understand the science that no one is immune to how the brain responds when distracted.
Current law bars drivers from texting while driving and teenagers from using a cell phone to talk or text while driving under with a restricted or intermediate license.