Test Mistakes

Cell phone use while driving

True or false? It is always illegal to use a cell phone while driving.

A. True.
B. False.

On several practice tests, a majority of users answer A. True.

If you want to master your permit knowledge test or driver’s license test it may be a good idea to stop for a minute or two and think here. Is it always illegal?

So far no state in United States prohibits cell phone use all together – and it is not likely going to happen either. So, why do a majority of users of our practice tests think that is the case?

How We Read

Computerized testing has one big disadvantage and that basically has to do with our frequent exposure to online content. We tend to read quickly, merely skimming or glancing at content on a screen. We group paragraphs and phrases into an image that look familiar, instead of reading critically. This is, of course, dangerous when it comes to taking a computerized exam.

During all reading we do not simply take in the words, we match the words with ideas and thoughts from our own experience. Unconsciously, we strive to put the words into some context. To do that we may need to add information to get a better picture, and we do that based on who we are and our previous knowledge. The result can become a context that we believe is the truth even though it isn’t. We may actually think that text gave us all information, even parts we unconsciously added ourselves.

I think most of us played games like pass the message and whisper down the lane at school. Basically, the same thing happens.

The Cell Phone Case

From the driver’s manual or driver handbook we know that distracted driving is dangerous and should be avoided. Using a cell phone while driving is one example of distracted driving. Because of the danger and the high risk of accidents among teenagers, cell phone use is usually prohibited for drivers with a permit or restricted license (laws differ). Many states also have laws that prohibits use of a cell phone without handsfree devices and that prohibits texting.

This is like feeding a lot of “no” into our heads.

Furthermore, your experience may tell you that the correct answer on an official test from DMV is more likely to be the most restricted one (“always illegal”).

Critical Reading

Without critical reading we try to gain knowledge by just memorizing the statements within a text. “Do not talk and drive”. We do not ask questions and we do not analyze purpose or reasons. We are satisfied with the mere words and the context we create.

With critical reading, we slow down. We read with an open mind. We ask how and why. What does the text actually say and what does it mean.

In the case with illegal cell phone use, would it even be possible to prohibit all cell phone use? What would be the reason for doing this? How would be enforced? What does the law actually say?

You get the idea.

You Shouldn’t

Now, back to the cell phone. Change the question to: Should you use a cell phone while driving? That question is completely different and requires another answer.

You shouldn’t use a cell phone while driving. With some critical reading you also know why. You know that for some it may even be illegal.


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