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For some, it is parallel parking. For others, the dreaded hill-start - but, according to scientists, neither of these is the most difficult manoeuvre in driving.
That prize goes to attempting a right-hand turn into oncoming traffic while talking; scientists say the combination of actions is simply too much for our brains to handle.
Talking - either to a passenger or on a hands-free kit - makes this manoeuvre much more dangerous, the researchers say, because the activity in those parts of the brain that deal with vision and decision-making is ‘significantly reduced’ when chatting.
The research team say the results have “important implications regarding distracted driving” and the use of hands-free car kits.
Lead author Dr Tom Schweizer, director at St Michael’s Hospital’s Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute in Toronto, said when British drivers made a right turn while talking, it “could be the most dangerous thing they ever do on the road’.
He said: “In theory, turning right is the most difficult aspect of driving because you having to consider oncoming traffic, traffic lights, and if pedestrians are crossing in the lane you are turning into.
“With hands-free kits, despite the fact that you are not holding on to a device, you are still being distracted from the primary task of driving.
“When we are talking, parts of the visual system shut down to allow the communications system to come on line. So less of our brain is devoted to the task of driving.”
The research, published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, involved testing 16 young drivers who were operating a driving simulator inside an MRI brain scanner.
This allowed them to map in real time which parts of the brain were activated or deactivated as the simulator took participants through increasingly difficult driving manoeuvres.
Dr Schweizer said the study backed up previous evidence “that multi-tasking while driving may compromise vision and alertness”. - Daily Mail