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Are You Still Distracted after You Put Your Phone Down?

Wednesday, May 03, 2017By Richard Alexander

Your phone rings while you are driving. Being cautious not to cause a crash or get a ticket for talking on a hand-held phone while driving, you pull over and answer the incoming call. Unfortunately, the conversation results in a heated argument. As soon as you hang up, you put the car in gear and start driving again. But even when the phone conversation is over, thoughts about the argument continue to linger in your mind.

Or, simply imagine this: You stop at a red light, grab your smartphone, and tweet to vent your frustration about the heavy traffic. By the time you start moving again, your mind wanders in anticipation of the number of followers who might have reacted to or sympathized with your social media post.

How often do you encounter these scenarios? And, how do you feel about them?

Researchers at the AAA Foundation for Traffic & Safety described this phenomenon as a hangover effect of mobile phone use. In the same way that alcohol hangover leaves a residual effect in the body, using a smartphone and its voice-to-text features (such as making phone calls, checking social media posts, and/or text messaging) occupies the mind even after you put your phone down.

Significantly, researchers concluded that “the mind stays distracted for up to 27 seconds” after performing any task using a smartphone.

Robert Sinclair, a spokesperson for AAA, warns the public of the dangers of this hangover effect. A lot could happen on the road within the average 27-second span of distraction after mobile phone use. In the worst cases, drivers lose focus. Their eyes may stay transfixed on the road but what they see does not seem to matter. They may continue to drive but not be concerned with the safety of pedestrians crossing or other vehicles on the road. Sinclair and others in his community call this “inattention blindness” caused by the distraction.

Distractions continue to increase the likelihood of road accidents and death. Obviously, smartphones are the main causes of distraction because 80% of drivers own these phones, as reported in 2014.

Some states have imposed prohibitions on making calls and text messaging using hand-held phones while driving to minimize the level of distraction.

Distracted driving incidents are all too common. If you or a family member has been severely injured or killed in an incident with a distracted driver, contact the Alexander Law Group, LLP at 888-777-1776. Initial consultations are free and confidential.

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