When we think of distracted driving, there’s a tendency to focus solely on cell phones. While texting and driving is an important part of the equation, it’s just one symptom of a more significant problem. To fully understand the issue of distracted driving and work toward preventing future accidents, we need to identify the three types of distracted driving.
How Dangerous Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is a huge problem on American roadways. Most studies estimate that distracted driving makes up about 25% of all US car crashes and claims more than 3,000 lives each year. Put another way, distracted driving is just as bad as driving while intoxicated.
The only way to reduce these accidents and prevent further tragedies is to raise awareness about the causes of distracted driving and which distractions are the most dangerous. When we can identify the elements of distracted driving, we have a better chance of catching ourselves before we lose control of the vehicle.
What Are the Three Types of Distracted Driving?
The three types of distracted driving are:
- Visual distractions
- Manual distractions
- And cognitive distractions
To get a better understanding of what these are, let’s break them down with some examples.
A visual distraction is anything that takes your eyes off the road.
It could be:
- A crash on the side of the road
- A flailing tube dancer at the car dealership
- Or even looking at your passenger
When you take your eyes off the road, you lose awareness of traffic signals and the car ahead of you, which makes you more likely to be involved in a rear-end collision or a T-bone.
Manual distractions take your hands off the wheel. Any time you reach for your cellphone to change the song or take a sip of your drink, you’re falling for a manual distraction. Manual distractions slow your reaction time to unexpected obstacles, like a merging car or an animal crossing the road.
Cognitive distractions are the most dangerous kind and the most difficult to define. A cognitive distraction is anything that takes your mind away from driving.
That usually means daydreaming, but can also include singing to your favorite song or arguing with a passenger. Cognitive distractions are the most dangerous because drivers lose focus on their vehicles, meaning they usually don’t slow down even when a crash is imminent.
The Dangers of Cognitive Distractions
Cognitive distractions are the most difficult to fight because we don’t realize we’re being distracted at all. What starts as a simple thought about what’s for dinner that night can turn into a train of thought that leaves you completely enthralled and driving in a trance-like state.
While it’s easy to fight manual and visual distractions, cognitive distractions require your complete focus. Any time you feel yourself thinking about something other than the car ahead of you, you need to force yourself to focus.
What Is Considered a Triple Threat?
While each of these three driving distractions can cause a crash on its own, the worst are distractions that comprise all three types. These are distractions that take your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road, and your mind away from the present moment. We call these “triple threats.”
A few examples of triple threats include:
- Cellphone use
- Reaching for items
- And eating while driving
When we engage with these distractions, we’re more likely to “phase out” and drive-by instincts alone. Many drivers engaging with these triple-threat distractions lose focus and don’t even realize they're in danger until the moment of impact.
Injured? Get Started on Your Case Today
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries at the hands of a distracted driver, you might have a case. To learn more about our firm, visit our about us page.