According to a complex piece of research published in Brain Research journal, the human brain struggles to cope with listening to a conversation and driving at the same time.
The US psychologists' study set out to assess how tasks such as listening to a conversation and using a mobile phone affect safety on the road.
Using brain scans, researchers investigated the impact on brain activity of having to listen to and understand language, when also performing a simulated driving task.
Researchers connected volunteers to a brain-imaging device while they were steering a car along a winding road on a driving simulator. Participants steered while listening to general knowledge statements and verifying them as true or false using a response button in one hand. Reaction time and response accuracy were monitored, and performance on the simulated driving was also assessed.
When compared with tests on undisturbed drivers, there was a 37% decrease in accuracy.
Commenting on the research on behalf of LARSOA, Simon Ettinghausen said: "Although the methodology does not accurately reflect driving conditions on British roads, the findings show how distractions can take people's attention away from the driving task.
"It is an unrealistic scenario that people will drive while answering general knowledge questions using a hand-held response pad.
"However, drivers need to be aware that tasks we take for granted such as changing a CD or smoking a cigarette take our attention away from the complicated task of driving and increase the possibility of being involved in a collision."
Click here to read the full Daily Mail news report about the research.