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Researchers say texting keeps a protective "sixth sense" from working

You see at least one every day on your daily commute to and from work: a driver who is multitasking while behind the wheel. From playing with the radio to eating and even engaging in some personal grooming, many people seem to think that they should be getting other things done while driving. Recent studies have given more weight to something most of us already know: texting while driving is the most dangerous kind of distracted driving.

Researchers say that texting undermines a "sixth sense" that normally helps to keep us safe behind the wheel.

In one particular study, researchers found that drivers who are upset or are having wandering thoughts actually tend to drive in a very safe manner and do not tend to swerve or drift in or out of the lane. The researchers believe that, to keep us safe, a "sixth sense" takes over as our minds wander. However, the researchers found that texting prevents this "sixth sense" from taking over.

3 categories of distraction

During the study, drivers were exposed to three different types of distractions: cognitive, emotional and physical. Fifty-nine drivers participated in the test, which used a high-fidelity driving simulator. They "drove" under normal conditions and under stressful circumstances so that researchers could study the differences. The stressful situations included cognitive and emotional distractions in the form of questions that the drivers had to answer while operating the simulator. The study required that some drivers text with one hand.

Researchers concluded that when drivers are under emotional stress or only their minds are distracted, the anterior cingulate cortex of the brain takes control of the situation. This is what allows drivers to operate safely if their mind is wandering.

Texting ups the ante

However, according to the researchers, the anterior cingulate cortex does not take over when a driver is texting. Researchers believe the anterior cingulate cortex fails to take control because, when drivers text, they take their eyes off of the road and one hand is texting. The anterior cingulate cortex needs information from the eyes and hands in order to function properly.

Getting the compensation you need and deserve

If you have been injured due to a distracted driver's negligence, you need to be aware of your full range of options for obtaining all of the compensation to which you are entitled. For more on these matters, please see our Little Rock car accident overview.

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