A lot of new hearing technology has been introduced in the past few years. This has brought about a paradigm shift in hearing aid use. Older technology limited their use to the immediate listening area. Now, using Bluetooth technology with your hearing aids, you can listen to your cellphone or other Bluetooth enabled audio device with both ears. The benefits of hearing aids can now be applied to an audio source coming from anywhere in the world! This has made a jaw-dropping difference for my clients.
But along with all the benefits of this new technology comes a warning. Don’t use your cellphone while driving. I’ve been reading a book called the invisible gorilla by cognitive psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons. They report that cell phone use by a driver results in driving performance similar to that of drunk drivers. It makes no difference whether you’re holding the phone to your ear or using a hands-free set up. Your ability to drive is affected by divided attention, not by whether or not you’re holding the phone.
Knowing this, a natural question follows: what about talking with passengers? Chabris and Simons say that conversation between a driver and passengers appears to have little to no effect on driving ability. Reasons for this include ease of listening and environmental awareness. Passengers know why you stop speaking when you enter a challenging driving situation. When you’re on the phone there is a social demand to continue the conversation no matter what your driving situation. Chabris and Simon’s book the invisible gorilla is a recommended read if you’re interested in the psychology of attention and perception.
Have a happy new year!