Here’s another warning to those who have the habit of using their mobile phones while driving. According to research recently featured on ScienceDaily.com, most severe road accidents happen while the driver is busy taking a hands-free call while making a left-hand turn.

Dr. Tom Schweizer and his colleagues at St. Michael's Hospital placed a group of young and healthy volunteers in a driving simulator, installed inside a high-powered MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine. The MRI scans enabled researchers to see which parts of each participant’s brain worked as they experienced different driving conditions. While accomplishing a series of six left-hand turns, the drivers were then distracted by audio-relayed true-or-false questions, such as “Does a triangle have four sides?”

The results of the MRI scans were alarming--when the participants were preoccupied by conversation, blood flowed from the visual cortex (the part of the brain controlling sight) to the prefrontal cortex (the part that deals with decision-making). This means that visual focus, which plays a significant role when executing left-hand turns or any driving maneuver, significantly diminishes. This raises the risk of vehicular accidents.

This doesn’t only involve left-hand turns. Any driving maneuver needs your full attention, especially since it doesn’t only involve your physical well-being, but also that of others. So if your phone rings while you’re on the road, ignore it for the time being and just ring back. If you really need to take the call, flash your hazard lights and scoot to the side of the road. After all, there’s no phone conversation that is worth your safety.

(Photo by Jeremy Noble via Flickr Creative Commons)

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