Newswise — The New York Times reported today that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had not made public research and warnings about the use of cell phones by drivers. The documents are being made public today, the newspaper reported.

Reporters pursuing stories about the growing controversy over cell phone use while driving may want to consider talking to Steven Yantis, a psychology professor at The Johns Hopkins University. An expert on human visual attention and cognitive control, Yantis conducted research on multi-tasking that concluded that the reason talking on a cell phone makes motoring less safe is because the brain cannot simultaneously give full attention to both the visual task of driving and the auditory task of listening.

"Our research helps explain why talking on a cell phone can impair driving performance, even when the driver is using a hands-free device," Yantis said. "The evidence we have right now strongly suggests that attention is strictly limited, a zero-sum game. So when we are paying attention to one modality -- talking on a cell phone -- it extracts a cost on another modality, the visual task of driving." Read more about Yantis' research study here:

More information about Yantis and his research can be found on his laboratory Web site, or call Lisa De Nike at 443-287-9960.

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