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Study shows people may be overconfident when it comes to multitasking behind the wheel

Countless studies have shown that motorists continue to multitask -- talk or text while driving -- at an alarming rate. Perhaps even more alarming is that this behavior is not just practiced by motorists on their way to the store, school or restaurant, but by employees during the course of their normal work hours.

As an employer, you understand that this multitasking behind the wheel exposes you to potential liability, decreased production and, of course, increased work comp costs. In fact, if an employee is dismissive of your warnings about the dangers of multitasking saying they can manage just fine, you may consider pointing to a new study by researchers at the University of Utah.

The study, published in the online journal PLOS ONE, subjected 310 volunteers to a multitude of tests and questionnaires designed to measure their perceived versus actual multitasking abilities, overall cell phone use while driving, and the correlation between certain personality traits and the incidence of multitasking.

They researchers made the following findings:

  • Motorists who were found to be the most capable/best at multitasking were also the least likely to engage in this conduct
  • Motorists who engage in multitasking typically aren't very good at it but have a "significantly inflated" perception of their abilities to do so safely
  • Motorists who engage in multitasking often do so because they are unable to focus on a single task, not because they are skilled at it
  • Motorists who could be classified as sensation-seeking or prone to impulsivity were the most likely to multitask

"If you have people who are multitasking a lot, you might come to the conclusion they are good at multitasking," said one of the study's primary authors. "In fact, the more likely they are to do it, the more likely they are to be bad at it."

Not surprisingly, the study authors advocate for increased legislation across the country that is designed to limit the ability of motorists to multitask while behind the wheel.

Stay tuned for important stories and updates from our workers' compensation defense law firm ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


ELS Today, "Multitasking and distracted driving," Laura Walter, Jan. 25, 2013

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