Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Drive In, Drive Out

Isn't she lovely...doot doot...isn't she beautiful... doot doot...

Okay, enough with the love song... though I must admit... that beauty of a car sure deserves it.

So before I left to come up to Seattle, I sold my car, which is awesome cause it was all profit (the car was given to me as a donation). And since I've moved, my father has (on more than one occasion) offered to buy me a car. A Mini Cooper, by the way. And though I feel like a complete dirtbag most of the time for turning down his awesome offer, I rest assured in the fact that I can get to and fro in Seattle just by using the Metro Transit system. I mean, I do sometimes wish I had one, but for some pretty selfish reasons, like wanting to just drive to IKEA (which is in Renton- outside of Seattle) or to Alki Beach or to West Seattle to explore. But on the other hand, I'm super glad I don't have to pay for insurance or gas or damages...or my ever frequent traffic violations. Yes, I know. I'm a model citizen... NOT. I've gotten my share of legitimate speeding tickets, I've changed lanes withouth signaling (yes. i'm THAT girl...sorry), and I've cut people off on the highway. But dont' worry, I won't be doing any of that anytime soon.

I say all this for two reasons.

ONE: I was reading an article on msn.com about how the Mini Cooper is actually one of the top choices for cars with the most value. Now, after having a car crush on the Mini (specifically the indi blue with white racing stripes), I must admit... if I were to BUY MY OWN CAR, the Mini would win, hands down.

and TWO: I read another article that made me think about all the crazy driver things I do, and how much of a hypocrite I am because I would pitch the biggest fit if anyone damaged my Mini Cooper due to being distracted by silly things like putting on make-up, changing the station, or trying to be a Speed Racer (all things I've done before). I've actually had a conversation once with my friend, Don about how astounding the human brain is, in regards to everything we do when we drive. In that car ride discussion, Don pointed out that he was driving, paying attention to other drivers, thinking ahead about directions, talking, listening to me speak, as well as everyone else in the car and listening to music. Which seems pretty standard, but when you think about all the attention needed to successfully stay in between those bright yellow lines, it still makes me drop my jaw in awe of the power of the brain. It reminded me of an excerpt from the arcticle I just referenced, which I'll post here, since you may not follow the link to actually read the article.

A recent study of cell-phone use while driving, published in the journal Brain Research, helps explain why. When the brain is asked to tackle two tasks at once, it gives priority to the more deeply ingrained skill. Since we learn to talk before we learn to drive, our brain power goes into the conversation instead of onto the road, causing us to miss visual cues and experience impaired peripheral vision and coordination. Researchers suggest that the same holds true for other distracting activities, which means that magazine-reading, mascara-applying and toddler-disciplining drivers are very likely at the same risk of accidents as cell phone users.

Imagine, then, what occurs in the brain of someone engaged in not just two activities, but three or four. Talking, eating and driving. Driving, shaving and singing. Perhaps the most outlandish documented example of multitasking while driving comes from research conducted by Nationwide Insurance in 2007: A respondent from San Antonio, Texas, admitted to having shaved her legs, eaten a taco, applied makeup and consumed an alcoholic beverage all at the same time. Against the odds, she lived to tell her story.

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