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Distracted driving: More than talking on a cellphone

When you think of driving when distracted, you probably assume a person is drowsy, eating or paying attention to a digital device. The last thing you assume could be a distraction is talking to someone in your vehicle, but it can be and is a distraction in many cases.

Two scientists have shown that getting into an argument when you're behind the wheel is a very dangerous distraction that could end up leading to an accident. Arguments are emotionally difficult to handle even when you aren't behind the wheel, so it's no stretch to understand how it could be a cause for concern when you are.

Conversing with a passenger rates 2.33 out of five on a five-point cognitive distraction scale, a scale designed to show the most and least distracting things you can do behind the wheel. Listening to the radio rates only 1.21, while talking on a cellphone is rated at 2.45. After inviting 20 couples to participate in a research study, the scientists found that driving with a passenger was more likely to cause an accident, and particularly emotional conversations topped the list for the most dangerous to have. Interestingly, having an argument in person was more detrimental to driving ability than having one over the phone, but driving without a passenger was the safest choice of all.

If you've been the victim of a car accident because another driver wasn't paying attention to the road, you have legal options open to you. Your health and safety are a priority, and fighting with a passenger can wait until a driver gets home safely.

Source: Association for Psychological Science, "Car Talk: Contentious Conversations Drive Distraction," accessed Dec. 23, 2016

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