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The problem: Using your phone increases your chances of being seriously injured. Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University studied the brains of drivers using cell phones, and found that just listening to someone talk reduced brain activity by 37 percent. Another study by the University of Washington found that texting pedestrians took 1.87 extra seconds to cross an average intersection and were four times more likely to ignore lights or forget to look both ways before crossing. "There is only a limited amount of information that anyone can process at the same time," Dr. Rosen says.
The solution: "We are continuously attending [to multiple tasks] but it is only 'partial' attention," Rosen says. "That is fine for some easy tasks, but not fine for anything that takes more than cursory thought." So when you're in a potentially risky situation, put down the phone. Your call or text can wait.