97% of the population is not made for texting while driving
Many people claim that they are good drivers, and at the same time, they criticize everyone else’s driving. If you think you are able to multiple tasks, like texting while driving, you probably have it wrong. According to a research from the University of Utah, it was found that less than 2.5% of the population are “supertaskers”.
In their study to be soon published in the Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, psychologists Jason Watson and David Strayer wanted to know who in the population was capable of performing complex multi-tasking with little effort. With recent statistics from the National Safety Council estimating that 28% of all accidents and fatalities on US highways were caused by drivers using cell phones, their idea was to put drivers to the test.
200 participants took part in a simulated freeway driving experiment to verify if they could carry out multiple tasks at once. The driving tests included braking reaction time and following distance. They also had to handle a phone conversation that involved memorizing a few words and solving simple math problems.
Those who were not “supertaskers” took more time to hit the brakes when needed and following distances increased 30% as the drivers failed to keep pace with simulated traffic while driving. Memory performance declined, as did the ability to solve math problems.
There were some exceptions. A total of 5 participants (three male, two female) got the label of “supertaskers”. They performed as well, if not better, in the dual-task condition than they did in the single-task conditions
Dr Watson was impressed by the results:
“Given the number of individuals who routinely talk on the phone while driving, one would have hoped that there would be a greater percentage of supertaskers. “
He also sent a warning to texting while driving motorists who tend to overestimate their multi-tasking skills.
“While we’d probably all like to think we are the exception to the rule, the odds are overwhelmingly against it. In fact, the odds of being a supertasker are about as good as your chances of flipping a coin and getting five heads in a row.”
Source: Jason M. Watson & David L. Strayer, Supertaskers: Profiles in Extraordinary Multi-tasking Ability, University of Utah; The Telegraph, March 30, 2010;