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Driving gets in the way of a good conversation

January 22, 2010 |  4:07 pm

Traffic Enough of those studies finding that talking interferes with driving. Maybe driving interferes with talking. Ever consider that?

Researchers at the University of Illinois did. They put several dozen people in a driving simulator -- asking them to either drive or just sit there -- and then had them chat with a conversation partner. Those partners were either in the simulator or calling via cellphone. Hands-free, of course.

Turns out, dealing with traffic does a number on the ability to recall information, even to produce speech. Intersections proved particularly problematic.

Here's the news release and the abstract from the study, funded by the National Institute on Aging and published in the February issue of Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.

The researchers wrote: "Measures of driving performance suggested that the drivers gave priority to the driving task when they were conversing. As a result, their linguistic performance suffered."

Obviously they should have been texting instead.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: Don't expect any of these drivers to remember much of what you tell them, whether you're conversing via phone or in the car.

Photo credit: Associated Press