I know. You\u2019ve been nagged and nagged by writers, including me and my colleague, Al Sacco, to put down your phone and other devices when you\u2019re behind the wheel. But before you stop reading note this: A new study from Florida State University indicates that even putting your phone on vibrate while you drive doesn\u2019t make you all that much safer.\n\n\nIn fact, the distraction caused by a simple notification \u2014 whether it is a sound or a vibration \u2014 is comparable to the effects seen when drivers actively use their cell phones to make calls or send text messages, the researchers found. "The level of how much it affected the task at hand was really shocking," said Courtney Yehnert, a researcher who worked on the study.\n\n\nYou might think that a short-lived buzz or chime wouldn\u2019t be much of a distraction. But that\u2019s not the case, the researchers found \u2013 they make your mind wander, and that\u2019s a real problem when you\u2019re driving.\n\n\nHere\u2019s a small experiment that I performed recently. Next time you\u2019re driving, make a note of a landmark on the roadside and as you pass it, start to count slowly to two or three \u2013 as in \u201cone Mississippi, two Mississippi and so on. If it\u2019s safe, pull over when you\u2019re done and notice how far you\u2019ve travelled from the spot where you started counting. Depending on your speed, it\u2019s quite a ways.\n\n\nIf you\u2019re distracted that long on a city street, that\u2019s plenty of time to run someone over or blow through a stop sign. And if you\u2019re moving at highway speeds, the potential for a serious rear-ended is quite high.\n\n\nThe Florida State study is at odds with the conventional wisdom that hands-free, heads-up technology is just fine for communicating while driving. "Cellular phone notifications alone significantly disrupt performance on an attention-demanding task, even when participants do not directly interact with a mobile device during the task," said the researchers.\n\n\nThe researchers point out something that people don\u2019t like to hear: most of us have a limited attention span. I have friends who swear that they are great multitaskers, but if they are, they are in a tiny minority. \u201cSimply remembering to perform some action in the future is sufficient to disrupt performance on an unrelated concurrent task,\u201d the researchers said.\n\n\nAnd as Al Sacco noted, \u201cThe fact that it's perfectly legal to talk on the phone while driving in the majority of states (36 to be exact) as long as you use a handset-free device suggests that government leaders are under this impression \u2014 or at least the laws reflect the misunderstanding.\u201d\n\n\nI won\u2019t repeat the statistics about how many people are killed or maimed because of distracted driving. It\u2019s a huge number, and as I noted at the top of this post, you\u2019ve probably already heard it. But now that you know that even hands-free is not safe, I hope you\u2019ll change your behavior and switch that phone into airplane mode when you\u2019re in the car.