Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cellphones, Driving & Learning Cognition

There's a growing debate amongst the effect of cellphones while driving. While it would seem to be logical that cellphones would increase the rate of accidents. However a recent study proved otherwise. A study of regions that have banned cellphones while driving reported no decrease in the rate of accidents. There is some difficulty in producing hard data as to whether accidents are reduced. How many people will admit to being on the phone? Within the learning field there is a similar discussion about the effect of distracting the user through different forms of media.

So if accidents aren't decreasing, this seems to elude to two options.

1) Cellphones aren't a distraction
2) Drivers are still using their cellphones

People for banning cellphones would argue that the number of accidents involving phones are going down. Those opposed to the ban point to stats and state that it doesn't make a difference. So it follows that other types of accidents are going up. So a third option appears:

3) Drivers are finding other distractions

Okay. So what's this got to do with learning. As of late there's more weight being given to cognitive science. Cognitive science tells us how our mind processes stimuli. When taking learning it's distracting to have both audio narration and redundant text narration. What's being read fights with what's being heard for the mind to process. In a car it's the same thing, passengers talking, tunes playing, GPS systems directing, DVD movies playing. Everything takes its toll on the mind.

No matter what the study says distractions - Bad. Whether people are distracted by cellphones, coffee, the newspaper, makeup, or passengers if they're not focussed on the road - it's a problem. Despite the clear evidence, can eliminating a distraction hurt? Any data to show that talking on a cellphone improves a person's driving? I suppose without hard evidence we shouldn't restrict liberties (unless it helps the terrorists - I digress).

See Also:
Calgary Herald

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