Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Technology

Do Cell Phones Put Blinders on the Driver?

By Hannah HoagOctober 1, 2002 5:00 AM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Don't try to tell Manbir Sodhi that using a hands-free cell phone does not affect driving. He knows better and has the data to prove it. Sodhi, an industrial engineer at the University of Rhode Island, and his colleague Jerry Cohen, a psychologist, mounted eye-tracking devices on the heads of a group of volunteers before they headed into traffic. Usually, a driver's eyes flit about, wandering from road to mirror to traffic and back. For a simple task, such as reading the odometer, the eyes track downward and to the left, pause briefly, and return to the road. But give a driver a mentally demanding task—such as reciting a list from memory while talking on a hands-free device—and that pattern of scanning goes away. Instead, there is virtually no eye movement: The driver just stares at the bumper of the car ahead or at the median. The problem is not the cell phone per se. "It's the complex cognitive tasks that affect the driver," says Sodhi. The solution, he suggests, is a dose of common sense: Avoid any demanding activity, whether negotiating with the boss or resetting the radio, when your full attention should be on driving.

3 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In