Listening and driving akin to drunk driving

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London, Apr 16 (UNI) Listening to something while driving is as dangerous as drunk driving, research said.

An American team led by British born Prof Marcel Just concluded that even a simple task like listening to someone speak while driving at the same time ''reliably degraded driving performance''.

A car radio or a gossipy passenger can impair driving in a similar way to drinking, so that a driver is more likely to weave in and out of the borders of a lane on a motorway, the Daily Telegraph quoted Prof Just as saying.

Prof Just, Timothy Kellera and Jacquelyn Cynkara of Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, hooked 29 participants, out of which 14 were women, up to an MRI brain imaging scanner while they were behind the wheel, along a winding virtual road.

The participants also listened to general knowledge sentences and verified them as true or false using response buttons in their other hand.

Reaction time and response accuracy were monitored and performance on the simulated driving task was assessed.

The study showed that the addition of a listening task decreased the brain activation associated with performing a driving task by 37 per cent.

The researchers observed that driving while listening resulted in much poorer quality of driving.

''Drivers need to keep not only their hands on the wheel; they also have to keep their brains on the road,'' Prof Just concluded.

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