Posts Tagged ‘Distracted Driving’

Are the Stereotypes True: The Effects of Divided Attention Declines in Older Adults on Every Day Activities

November 14th, 2022 No comments

Have you ever seen a meme or a video that depicts older adults not being able to drive, not being able to walk, not being able to remember things, or not being able to focus. These types of media are very present in our lives today, and are reflective of many of the stereotypes that surround older adults in our society today. But, have you ever taken a second to think about why these stereotypes exist, and why we are so quick to believe them? In other words, are there actually age-related changes or declines that older adults are experiencing that impact their ability to walk, drive, remember, or perform any other daily function, or is it just stereotyping of older adults that create these perceptions in our minds about how older adults perform on these tasks? Research about cognitive aging has provided us with insight into how our brain and cognitive functioning changes as a result of getting older, and how this in turn influences performance on a daily basis as we age. The field of cognitive aging is very wide, and research encompasses a wide variety of topics, including memory, perception, attention, language, prior knowledge, and much more. Additionally, a wide variety of theories have been carefully developed and researched to provide explanations for the declines that we see in older adults as they age. Although everyday functions for older adults such as driving, walking or memory could be influenced by declines in a wide variety of areas, present research about divided attention declines in older adults provide significant insight into how decline in divided attention impacts a variety of every day functions for older adults.

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Let’s Talk About Your Feelings: They Change How You See the World

April 24th, 2022 No comments

Have you ever been so stressed about an upcoming assignment that it’s all you can think about? Consumed with procrastination, you find yourself thinking about it while eating dinner with your friends—what were you talking about again? You were too busy thinking about your calculus midterm. If that doesn’t ring a bell, maybe this will: imagine relaxing in your home, making dinner, and watching television, when you see a cockroach scamper across your kitchen floor (eek!). If you’re like me, you would jump on the table and become all-consumed with how to get rid of the intruder. In your preoccupation, you severely burn the chicken you were cooking for dinner.

Our emotions are mentally taxing! (source)

While I can’t save your spoiled meal or ensure a good grade on your exam, I can explain the origins of the narrow-mindedness we experience when we are stressed or scared. Let’s talk about an idiom for a second. When you are stressed out, a cognitive psychologist might say that you “can’t see the forest for the trees.” In other words, you’ve become too focused on the details to see the bigger picture. You have a paper due tomorrow, but you spent all day deciding what font to use.

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The End of Distracted Driver Accidents: Advanced Driver Assistance Systems

May 2nd, 2014 2 comments

Distracted driving is one of the major causes of car accidents today, but what if there was a solution to prevent many of them? Distracted driving is when the person in control of the car attends to irrelevant stimuli, causing impaired performance. Some examples include talking on a cell phone, listening to loud music, and texting while driving. A recent paper released by Cognition, Technology & Work proposes that issuing alerts to bring drivers to attention whenever a dangerous traffic situation exists could curb roadside accidents. This could be determined by a driver assistance system that would recognize cues that could signal an uncertain driving situation. But how would this help drivers? To help the reader understand, I will explain some of the psychological processes at work when driving, and when doing so distracted.

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Choose your level of impairment: you can either a) drive drunk, or b) drive while talking on the phone.

April 20th, 2013 3 comments


The milestone that stands out among teenagers’ exciting and memorable lives is getting one’s license. The excitement that comes with the accomplishment of a driver’s license dominates the high school years sending teens into a euphoric state of independence. Over time, and as licensed teens grow older, parents are likely to sit down with their kids to stress the importance of never getting behind the wheel of a car while under the influence of alcohol because of the dangers of drunk driving. Increasingly over the past few years parents have also recognized the importance of giving the same advice in regards to driving while talking on the phone. There is growing awareness of the need to outlaw cell phone use in the car, especially given the new texting and driving phenomenon (, however drunk driving and cell phone driving are still not seen as comparable dangers.

Nearly everyone will talk on a cell phone while driving at some point during his or her life. Some people need to make urgent business calls, some people call a friend to ask for


directions, and some people just get bored on their drive home from work. David Strayer, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, discusses in his research on distracted driving that approximately 8% of drivers on the road at any given time throughout the day are using their cell phone (Glassbrenner, 2005). A majority of drivers believe that phone calls don’t have a distracting effect on them especially if they are using a hands-free device. However, Strayer and his colleagues have found that the attention demanding nature of cell phone conversations make the damaging effects of distracted driving, hands-free device or not, present in nearly all drivers (e.g., Patten et al. 2004; Redelemeier & Tibshirani, 1997; Strayer & Johnston, 2001), save some appropriately named “supertaskers” (Watson & Strayer, 2010) who showed no impairment while talking and driving.

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Categories: Attention Tags: ,

Cell phone use, driving, and limited attention

March 11th, 2013 No comments

distracted driving

Attention is a finite resource (Kahneman, 1973) and most cognitive activities – talking, remembering, carrying on a conversation – require some amount of these  limited resources. This means, from a practical perspective, that there is a limit to the number of tasks in which we can concurrently engage. Multi-tasking, or attempting to perform multiple tasks at once, generally results in poorer performance on all tasks. Experimental evidence has repeatedly demonstrated that talking on a cell phone while driving – in a simulator, of course!) results in marked impairment in braking times, detecting road signals, and maintaining a safe distance from other cars (Strayer & Johnston, 2001; Strayer & Drews, 2007). The degree of impairment can be comparable to the impairment in driving observed when one drives under the influence of alcohol (Strayer, Drews, & Crouch, 2006) and measures of brain activity show decreased reactivity to traffic signals while talking on a phone (Strayer, Drews, & Johnston, 2003).

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