Looking at the road and holding the wheel are not enough to be safe — we must concentrate only on the primary task of driving.
We are cognitively distracted if we are not concentrating entirely on driving and instead are trying to think about a secondary task, i.e. a cell phone conversation, texting or reading emails.
There have been a number of scientific studies that looked at cognitive distractions and whether hands-free activities that require concentration are safe. Those studies have consistently shown that just giving up the manual distraction — holding the cell phone for example — does nothing to reduce cognitive distraction.
If we are concentrating on something other than driving, there are less brain resources available for safe driving. Multitasking while driving impairs our ability to focus on driving, and it’s unsafe.
Trying to multitask while driving can easily overload our brains and result in up to 37 percent of brain resources diverted to performing the secondary task, when they are really needed for safe driving.
For more information on cognitive distractions, see these studies:
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