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BOB HIRSHON (host):
How texting saps focus. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Overall, humans are pretty good drivers, even when we’re stressed out.
ROBERT WUNDERLICH (Texas Transportation Institute):
We’ve developed some mechanisms over our evolution that help us compensate when we’re doing one task but something else takes our attention.
But texting short-circuits this ability, according to Robert Wunderlich, director of the Texas A&M Center for Transportation Safety. He and his colleagues write in Scientific Reports that when volunteers were forced to concentrate on math problems or stressful emotional issues during a simulated driving exercise, their brains automatically corrected for minor mistakes.
The result is that the car goes straight.
But texting led to swerving in and out of lanes.
Texting overwhelms our capability to automatically compensate for dividing our attention.
I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.