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What happens when a driver uses a cellphone?

You may have heard some of the statistics about texting and driving thanks to national and statewide campaigns to bring awareness to the increased crash risks on Connecticut roadways and across the country. Because drivers take at least one hand off the wheel and look away from the road to read a text message, their chances of an accident rise significantly. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the mental demands of even a simple conversation on a cellphone change the way that your brain processes vital information.

Researchers have called the effects of mental distractions “inattention blindness.” Even though you may be looking directly at the road while thinking about something else, such as a phone call, you are still likely completely miss important cues or fail to respond to them quickly enough. In simulated situations, scientists have studied people’s brains via imaging techniques and discovered that the brain activity was reduced by 37 percent when using a headset while driving. This may be the reason that many studies indicate delays in reaction time for drivers talking on the phone.

During a three-year study, researchers discovered that people who were talking on a cellphone were twice as likely to have a minor crash as those who were not obviously engaged in any distracting behavior. If your call also involves reaching for your phone, answering it or dialing a number, your risk of a crash or near miss is tripled. This information about cellphones and driving is educational in nature and not intended as legal advice.

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