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As an adult, you probably think that you multitask all the time. You might organize papers on your desk while sitting on hold on the telephone. Maybe you send a text message to a family member while dinner is cooking on the stove. Unfortunately, believing in the myth of multitasking can put you at risk of making poor decisions on the road.

Specifically, you might think that because you have experience with so-called multitasking in other environments that you can do so safely at the wheel as well. Whether you intend to change your shirt or look down at your phone, it’s important that you understand that your brain does not actually allow you to do two things at once.

When you multitask, your brain switches between functions

Some people will compare multitasking to the way that a computer operates. However, the human brain is not a processor chip capable of running multiple programs simultaneously. According to the National Safety Council, your brain can truly only perform one function at a time.

When you multitask, what you actually do is rapidly switch focus between two or more tasks repeatedly. Understanding this makes it clear that there is no safe way to use a mobile phone while in control of a motor vehicle. If your brain is in texting mode, you may not react quickly enough to a child who runs out into the street or a car that stops suddenly in front of you.

You don’t have to look down at your phone for it to distract you

Some people think that as long as they don’t actually read a text message or type one out, they won’t let their phones distract them in the vehicle while they drive. However, your phone still has the potential to distract you if it rings or starts giving you notifications.

The sound of an incoming email or text message can be enough to mentally distract you from driving safely and potentially put you in a situation where you could get into a crash. Putting your phone on silent and out of sight in the car is usually the safest choice.

Given that distracted driving remains a leading cause of crashes, avoiding it yourself is a great step toward improved safety. Unfortunately, you may still wind up at risk for a distracted driving crash through the actions of other people on the road. In that situation, you may be able to file an insurance claim or even the personal injury lawsuit against the person who prioritized their phone over public safety.