cell-phone-driving_small.jpgOver 55% of the U.S. own cell phones. Given our love of convenience, we love our cell phones. Add that to our attraction to large shiny metal objects, we love our cars. It’s only logical that the average person drives and talks on their cell phone at the same time.

Ever pull up beside someone who’s using their cell phone in the next lane and wonder if you’re in danger? Apparently, some optometrists felt that way and did some research. In a recent article in Optometry: Journal of the American Optometric Association the question was asked, “Does cell phone conversation significantly affect the user’s peripheral vision?” I’ll save you from the long, boring story of how they setup the research and just give you the result. The article reports,

“Our research showed that the cognitive task involved in processing a conversation on a cell phone is reflected in a significantly reduced visual field area.”

Translation? Cell phone conversation detracts attention from the visual system. This means objects in a person’s peripheral vision are not noticed as readily. As you can imagine this is a major concern. The researchers even minimized the effects of dialing and holding the phone. So conversation in and of itself is the culprit. That means even hands-free devices won’t likely improve the peripheral vision issue.

In defense of those of us who do drive and talk at the same time, the researchers said, “More experienced drivers have an advantage, because driving becomes more of a subconscious task with increased driving experience.” For those of you who may be wondering, they also reported no significant difference between male and female peripheral vision decrease.