If you’re one of those drivers that swears by opening a window and listening to music in order to stay awake – think again.
When I started the Investigate everything blog posts, I wanted to highlight the valiant efforts of scientists who investigate the banalities of everyday Western life. So, in my first Investigate Everything post, I wrote about the dangers of walking while texting. And today, I am writing about another strange habit that the human species has managed to pick up: driver sleepiness countermeasures.
You know what I’m talking about. There you are, on the open road, minding your own business, when Morpheus, the God of sleep, starts to beckon. Refusing to heed his call, you Google the closest coffee shop or motel, only to realize that the next town is an hour away. So what do you do? You turn up the stereo, crack open a window, and hope your eyes won’t get too dry from trying not to blink.
*Vos paupières sont lourdes… loouuuuuurdes!*
Does this technique actually work? A team of Swedish and French scientists from Stockholm University and the University of Bordeaux looked into it, and found that, despite what you may believe, opening the driver’s window and playing music won’t help you stay awake at the wheel.
Applied Cognitive Psychology recently published a study on one of the newest ways we, as humans, have found of obstructing traffic – walking while texting (WwT). I, myself, have been guilty of WwT, but I’ve recently resolved to curb my “mobile” texting habits because, to be honest, I find the practice incredibly annoying.
Adepts of WwT tend to walk slowly and aimlessly, which makes them very hard to pass on the sidewalk. Granted, they mostly just endanger themselves, but their lack of spatial awareness makes them a hazard nonetheless. As you can tell, my feelings on the subject are rather strong, so I was tickled when I read the title of the following study: “Practicing Safe Text: the impact of Texting on Walking Behaviour.”
In this study, the researchers, headed by Dr. Stacy M. Lopresti-Goodman of Marymount University, looked at how walking while texting alters an individual’s own walking behaviour. The researchers found that, on average, people who engaged in WwT were much more cautious than walkers who weren’t texting. Despite this excess in caution, “texters” did not avoid obstacles with more ease than “non-texters.” The scientists concluded that being overly cautious while texting does not decrease the chances of being involved in an accident.