Supertaskers Drive Better while on the Phone

by Guest on March 30, 2010

multi-task Have you recently received a glare because you were chatting on the phone while driving somewhere?  Are you tired of people using hand gestures to suggest that you hang up the phone and drive?  You can understand why they passed a law preventing other people from talking on their phones while driving, but you know this shouldn’t really apply to you.

Well, thanks to this study from the University of Utah, it’s clear that some of us are actually better drivers while we are doing multiple tasks.

The study, conducted by psychologists Jason Watson and David Strayer, measured the ability of people to have a conversation on the phone, including some memorization and mathematics, while driving a simulated vehicle.  As expected, the study found that almost everyone sucks at this; either they had a reduced braking time or they weren’t able to keep up with traffic, or more telling, their math abilities dropped by about 3%, and memorization by about 11%.  Who doesn’t need to do minor math issues while driving to and from work.  Mix in a bit of spelling, and you’ve got a winner.

The good new is, apparently about 2.5% of us are labeled as “supertaskers,” people with the unique ability to juggle multiple tasks without sacrificing attention or cognitive ability. In some cases the ability to memorize actually went up while these folks were doing everything at once.

“There is clearly something special about the supertaskers,” says Strayer. “Why can they do something that most of us cannot?”

I guess some of us were just born with the ability to do more than one thing at once.    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to clean up the coffee that I just spilled on my mouse.  I might be exceptional at driving and chatting, but apparently I have yet to master drinking coffee while writing a blog.

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