Distracted Driving Awareness: The Three Types of Driver Distraction

We most often associate distracted driving with cell phones and texting. However, thousands of distracted driving crashes occur every year despite the drivers involved not having a phone in their hand. That is because there are multiple types of driver distraction.

To be sure, cell phones are a major distraction, pulling a driver’s eyes and attention off the road. However, it is important to be aware of all potential distractions when driving. From makeup to food to radios and even passengers, there are dozens of potential distractions every time you get behind the wheel. Recognizing them can go a long way in preventing future accidents.

Is Distracted Driving Really That Big of a Problem?

In short, yes. Studies used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regularly find that distracted driving makes up about 25% of all U.S. car crashes. That is about the same as drunk driving.

So why is distracted driving such a big problem?

The more we drive, the more confident we become behind the wheel. And though we may gain experience over time, we can also forget the importance of safe driving practices.

With that, it is safe to wager that every driver has been distracted at some point in their driving history. Some motorists will even use the fact that past acts of distracted driving did not result in accidents as an excuse for poor driving behaviors in the future.

A common example of this is drivers who believe they can text and drive or pick out a new song from their playlist as long as they consistently look back at the road. They may believe they have solved the underlying issue of distracted driving by being aware that they are distracted and attempting to limit the distraction to short bursts. This is simply not a viable solution.

The problem with distracted driving is that it only takes moments for tragedy to occur. In those short glances away from the road, a lot can happen. Cars can stop, traffic can merge, and collisions can happen.

Is There More than One Type of Driver Distraction

Experts recognize three types of distracted driving: visual distractions, manual distractions, and cognitive distractions. Each of these types may cover multiple actions or behaviors. Further, a single act of distracted driving, such as texting, may result in multiple types of distractions.

Let’s break each type of driver distraction down for a better understanding.

Visual Distractions

A visual distraction is anything that takes your eyes off the road. Visual distractions are not limited to distractions within your vehicle. They can be a crash on the side of the road, a sign or billboard, a pedestrian, or even a passenger in your car.

While your eyes are on the distraction, you can miss traffic signals, stopping traffic, or upcoming obstacles or changes in direction. All of these can greatly increase your risk of being involved in a crash.

Manual Distractions

Manual distractions are actions and behaviors that take your hands off the wheel. When you reach for food or a drink or to adjust your radio, you are falling for a manual distraction. Manual distractions can slow your reaction time as well as your ability to safely respond to hazards.

Cognitive Distractions

Even more than visual distractions and manual distractions, cognitive distractions pose the greatest risk to drivers. Worse still, these are distractions that you may not be aware of at all.

Cognitive distractions are those that take your attention off the task of driving, and they can occur even as your eyes are on the road and your hands are on the wheel. When you are momentarily lost in thought, thinking about work or dinner, you are facing a cognitive distraction.

Cognitive distractions can become more common if you are fatigued or stressed, and they can leave you in an unexpected accident.

Triple Threat Distractions

As previously mentioned, some distractions are visual, manual, and cognitive all at the same time. The distractions remove your eyes from the road, your hands from the wheel, and your attention from the task of driving.

The most common among these is texting. As you complete a text, at least one hand is off the wheel, your eyes are on your phone’s screen, and your mind is on the message you are reading or typing.

Other “triple threats” include eating, applying make-up, adjusting GPS, or passing an item to a passenger.

Hit by a Distracted Driving? Call Thomas J. Henry Law

If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident caused by a distracted driver, call Thomas J. Henry Law immediately.

Our law firm has represented car accident victims across the United States. We know how to demonstrate driver distraction occurred and how to gather the evidence necessary to prove your claim. By working with industry experts, our law firm has helped to show jurors the dangers of distracted driving – helping our clients secure the compensation they deserve.

Do not wait. Our Texas car accident attorneys are standing by 24/7, nights and weekends.

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