Distracted driving is a serious problem that has become increasingly more common recently. It is considered distracted driving when any activity someone does diverts a driver’s attention away from the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed 2,841 lives in 2018 alone.
Visual distractions are anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road. This type of distraction is particularly dangerous because it can happen very quickly and unexpectedly. A driver may look away from the road for just a few seconds, but that is enough time for a serious accident to occur.
Common Examples of Visual Distractions
- Texting while driving
- Checking social media
- Checking your GPS
- Looking at your phone
Effects of Visual Distractions
Visual distractions are a leading cause of car accidents. When a driver takes their eyes off the road, they are unable to react to unexpected situations. For example, a pedestrian crossing the street or a car suddenly stopping in front of them. This lack of attention can cause serious injuries or even fatalities.
Manual distractions are anything that takes a driver’s hands off the wheel. This type of distraction can be just as dangerous as visual distractions, as the driver is not in full control of the vehicle.
Common Examples of Manual Distractions
- Eating or drinking
- Doing makeup
- Adjusting the radio or navigation system
- Texting or typing on a phone
Effects of Manual Distractions
When a driver takes their hands off the wheel, they are unable to react to unexpected situations quickly. This can result in the driver losing control of the car, causing accidents or collisions. Injuries can range from minor bruises to life-threatening conditions.
Cognitive distractions are anything that takes a driver’s mind off the road. This type of distraction can be more difficult to recognize, as it does not involve any physical action.
Common Examples of Cognitive Distractions
- Daydreaming or mind wandering
- Stress or emotional distress
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Conversations with passengers
- Using a hands-free device for calls or texts
Effects of Cognitive Distractions
Cognitive distractions can impair a driver’s ability to make quick decisions and react to changing situations on the road. This can increase the risk of accidents and injuries. Drivers who are cognitively distracted are more likely to miss important cues, such as road signs or traffic signals, which can lead to crashes.
Preventing Distracted Driving
Preventing distracted driving requires a combination of awareness, education, and technology. Some tips to avoid distracted driving include:
- Put the phone away and turn off notifications while driving.
- Use hands-free devices for calls or texts.
- Avoid eating or drinking while driving.
- Finish grooming and other preparations before starting the car.
- Pull over if feeling drowsy or stressed.
Recently, many states have been passing laws to help prevent distracted driving, including banning texting while driving and limiting how many younger passengers can ride with teen drivers. In turn, driving laws have been effective and have decreased driving cell phone use from 3.1% to 2.7% in Sacramento Valley Region in California as well as 6.8% to 2.9% in Hartford, Connecticut.
Distracted driving is a dangerous practice that can take many forms, including visual, manual, and cognitive distractions. Visual distractions take a driver’s eyes off the road, manual distractions take their hands off the wheel, and cognitive distractions take their mind off the task of driving. Each type of distraction can increase the risk of accidents and injuries. However, even understanding the types of distracted driving, it is still hard to prove when an accident or injury happened due to distracted driving. If you are involved with a potential distracted driving accident, be sure to take witness claims and police reports. To learn more about what evidence to take after an accident, read here.
To prevent distracted driving, drivers should be aware of the risks and take steps to avoid distractions while on the road. This can include putting the phone away and turning off notifications while driving, using hands-free devices for calls or texts, avoiding eating or drinking while driving, finishing grooming and other preparations before starting the car, and pulling over if feeling drowsy or stressed. By taking these steps, drivers can help to reduce the number of accidents caused by distracted driving and make the roads safer for everyone.