Driving impairs talking

Ensar Becic, Gary S. Dell, Kathryn Bock, Susan M. Garnsey, Tate Kubose, Arthur F. Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is well known that conversation (e.g., on a cell phone) impairs driving. We demonstrate that the reverse is also true: Language production and comprehension, and the encoding of the products of comprehension into memory, are less accurate when one is driving. Ninety-six pairs of drivers and conversation partners engaged in a story-retelling task in a driving simulator. Half of the pairs were older adults. Each pair completed one dual-task block (driving during the retelling task) and two single-task control blocks. The results showed a decline in the accuracy of the drivers' storytelling and of their memory for stories that were told to them by their nondriving partners. Speech production suffered an additional cost when the difficulty of driving increased. Measures of driving performance suggested that the drivers gave priority to the driving task when they were conversing. As a result, their linguistic performance suffered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-21
Number of pages7
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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