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Risking your Life: Turning Left and Talking on Cell

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A team of neuroscientists from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto say that drivers who talk on a smart phone, even using a hands-free device, while turning left are putting their lives at serious risk.

“[It] could be the most dangerous thing they ever do on the road,” says Tom Schweizer, director of neuroscience research at St. Michael’s Hospital after his team monitored how the brain coped with completing a series of complex tasks via a driving simulator. One task studies captured brain images showing how it reacts when conducting a left turn at a busy intersection while talking on a cell phone.

The study participants included seven females and nine males (all right handed) between the ages of 20 and 30 years old, who had been driving for at least the past 7 years.  Each individual was asked to perform a series of driving tasks while areas of the brain were stimulated, including:

  • A right hand turn at a busy intersection while talking on a cell phone
  • Driving straight down a road while using a cell phone
  • A left hand turn at a busy intersection while chatting on a cell phone

“The entire brain lights up…when they’re doing a left-hand turn at a busy intersection…you have to look at oncoming traffic, pedestrians and lights, and co-ordinate all that [and it] requires a significant amount of co-ordinated brain areas to pull that off,” says Schweizer. “[It’s] far different from what areas of the brain are used when straight driving or making a right-hand turn.”

Source: Vancouver Sun

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