No matter what we’re doing or where we are, it always seems to feel as though our phones and devices are calling to us with alerts for new text messages, likes, comments, videos, and news articles that we’ve got to read immediately. This can divide our attention as we struggle to give 100% of ourselves to two or three or four things at once. But the struggle can prove particularly dangerous when you’re behind the wheel of a car. And here’s the thing: despite how you may feel about your own ability to multitask, our brain’s ability to pay attention to a multitude of things at once is actually very limited. So much so that you’re already fighting a losing battle every time you try to drive and stay connected.
According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), focusing on more than one thing at a time forces your brain to split its attention and can lead to something called inattentional blindness. This means you are incapable of seeing unexpected but super visible things that could be right in front of you. That’s bad enough when you miss the pissed off look on someone’s face while you’re trying to carry on a conversation and check your twitter feed at the same time. But when it’s something like a stop sign, this reckless balancing act can lead to, well, injury or death.
Click on the NHTSA’s video above to learn more about the statistics behind distracted driving, and some tips on how best to stay safe behind the wheel while your notifications are buzzing.