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How lucky do you feel?

There's an old saying that familiarity breeds contempt. And if not actual contempt, it may breed indifference. The human brain often focuses on novelty. Whether the latest movie from Hollywood or rock in our shoe, we notice things that are new.

And because our brains only have a limited capacity to deal with stimuli, if we are focused on one thing, we probably are not paying attention to something else. If that "something else" involves driving a motor vehicle down a public street or road, the consequence of that lack of attention can be frightening.

The problem with paying attention when driving is even deeper. Even if we are not eating, drinking, smoking, checking our hair in the mirror or trying to find something in a purse or bag on the seat next to us, because we spend so much time behind the wheel, our brains can become easily bored with the task of driving.

Because in Columbia, or any other city in Missouri, individual traverse the same general routes every day on their way to and from work, school or running errands. And because most cities change slowly, your brain habituates to the scenery, stops paying much attention and is easily distracted.

Now, throw a smartphone with texting and all sorts of additional "fun" capabilities, like watching video, and the mix of distraction can become quickly deadly. Those few second spent glancing at an incoming text or responding with "LOL" is all it takes to rear-end another car, run a stop light or not see a small child darting out between two parked cars.

Our brains can also fool us into believing that if we did it once or twice or three times, we are unlikely to ever suffer an injury or accident. Unfortunately, every time a driver texts, the chances of an accident are exactly the same, and no matter how lucky we have been, like rolling a die, eventually it comes up "snake eyes."

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