Study: Cell phone notifications can impair driving

Experts say cell phone noises and alerts can put drivers in danger.  A new Florida State University study found these notifications can be just as distracting as talking or texting while driving.

In the first study of its kind, the researchers discovered that when your cell phone sends out an alert, your mind starts to wander and lose concentration.  “The level of how much it affected the task at hand was really shocking,” FSU researcher Courtney Yehnert said.

This doesn’t surprise Paula Hickinbotham. “A lot of times when you hear that ring, you want to look at maybe who is texting or calling,” Hickinbotham said. “I think you’re in tune to whatever your tone is when you’re text comes in. So you want to say, ‘Ok who was that?’”

The Florida Highway Patrol says most accidents they respond to are caused by distracted driving. “We forget that we’re operating a 3,500-pound missile going down the road,” Trooper Kenn Watson said. “Everyone is multitasking when they’re behind the wheel. They have a feeling that when they’re driving from Point A to Point B, no time can be wasted and what they’re forgetting is getting there is our paramount job.”

The researchers say the best solution is to put your phone on mute or keep it out of sight. Hickinbotham stays safe behind the wheel because she wants to set an example for – and be around for – her child. “Put it down. No call is as important as your life or your child’s life, and it can wait. It can wait,” she said.

Officials say the best thing to do is to answer your phone only when you’re at a complete stop. There are also a number of apps available for both iPhone and Android devices that completely mute your phone while you’re driving a car.

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