In today’s fast-paced world, “multitasking” has become a buzzword, lauded as a necessary skill for success in various aspects of modern life. People even commonly list it as one of their talents on their resumes.
Unfortunately, multitasking is actually a total myth – and buying into the misguided notion that people can effectively juggle several different tasks at once can lead to serious problems for drivers. In fact, attempts at multitasking behind the wheel may be one of the most significant contributors to motor vehicle accidents today.
What multitasking is supposed to be, and what it really is
Multitasking is commonly defined as the ability to perform multiple tasks simultaneously, with equal effectiveness and attention. While that’s often what people think they’re doing when they’re trying to manage two different activities at once, they’re really rapidly switching their attention between those tasks.
As a result, their attention becomes divided, and their cognitive load (the mental effort required to stay focused on anything) increases significantly. This leads to reduced performance and increased error rates in all the tasks they are trying to accomplish.
In terms of multitasking while behind the wheel, that’s just a recipe for distracted driving. Good driving demands complex decision-making, good perceptions and quick reflexes. By attempting to multitask, such as using a mobile phone while driving, drivers overload their cognitive capacity, leading to impaired performance behind the wheel.
“Attentional blindness” is another byproduct of multitasking. When a driver is trying to focus on two things at once, they may not process crucial information. For instance, while talking on the phone and driving, a driver may fail to notice a pedestrian crossing the road or a vehicle suddenly changing lanes ahead of them. That can leave them with impaired reaction times and lead to tragedy.
You can do your part to avoid distracted driving accidents by recognizing that multitasking is a myth and that driving requires all of your attention. However, that won’t necessarily protect you from another driver’s mistakes. If you’re injured by a distracted driver, you have every right to expect fair compensation for your injuries and other losses.