Driving distractions focus of BU symposium

Health Sciences Symposium For immediate release: March 30, 2011

BLOOMSBURG — Distractions while driving will be the focus of the 20th annual Health Sciences Symposium and Wellness Fair at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania on Thursday and Friday, April 7 and 8.

The keynote speaker David Strayer, professor of psychology at the University of Utah, will give two lectures on the topic “Analog Minds in a Digital World.” All events are free and open to the public.

The first lecture, “Digital Technology and Multitasking: Effects on Brain Function” will be presented Thursday, April 7, at 7 p.m. in Haas Center for the Arts, Mitrani Hall.

The second, “Dying to Talk, Text or Surf
Behind the Wheel of an Automobile,” will be offered Friday, April 8, at 9 a.m. in the Kehr Union Ballroom.

Strayer’s research on distracted driving is being used to promote TV personality Oprah Winfrey’s “No Phone Zone” project, which encourages drivers not to text or talk on a cell phone in the car. Strayer has studied distracted drivers for 10 years and found talking on a cell phone while driving quadruples the risk of an accident and texting or sending e-mail on a phone increases the risk eight times. His research shows that driving while distracted is equivalent to having a blood alcohol level of 0.08, the definition of drunk driving.

His research also focuses on attention and performance in real-world settings, such as driving, medicine and aviation. His research interests include skill acquisition and skilled performance, mathematical modeling of human performance and age-related differences in information processing and cognitive psychophysiology.

The two-day Health Sciences Symposium will be filled with speakers, demonstrations and information regarding brain function and wellness. It is sponsored by the Provost Lecture Series, Science and Health Sciences Living and Learning Community and the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation. A wellness fair featuring displays and information on healthy lifestyles also is planned in Kehr Union, multipurpose A and B, Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 8,000 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Education, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.