Distracted driving is among the top causes of preventable motor vehicle crashes in the United States. Still, despite its prevalence, people often misunderstand distracted driving. Many people use the term to refer to digital distraction, such as posting to social media or reading a text message at the wheel.
Obviously, engaging with a digital device while in control of a vehicle is a dangerous distraction, but it is far from the only source of distraction. What it is, however, is a perfect example of all three categories of distraction. Do you know the three main kinds of driving distractions?
Manual distraction involves a driver’s hands off of the wheel
When someone reads or types a text message, they generally need to tap the screen of their device in order to do so. That means taking one or possibly both of their hands off the wheel, an act that experts refer to as manual distraction.
When you don’t have your hands on the wheel, it increases your reaction time to sudden changes in traffic. You will have to assert control over the wheel again, which might make the difference between preventing a crash and causing one.
Visual distraction involves taking your eyes off of the road ahead of you
When driving, many people have to constantly scan their environment for safety. The eyes will generally focus forward, even if you do check your mirrors and the sides of your vehicle occasionally.
When you gawk at something occurring outside the vehicle, make eye contact with a passenger or glance down at a phone, you are visually distracted and may not notice in time if something unexpected happens in front of you, like a child running into the road to chase a ball.
Cognitive distraction may be the most dangerous kind of all
The truth is that your phone and many other things can distract you even if you don’t take your hands off the wheel or look down at your phone. When you mentally start to focus on something other than the task of safely driving your car, you may not pay as close attention to surroundings and could greatly increase your risk of getting into a crash.
Internal or mental distraction is highly prevalent and hard to prove. While driving during your daily commute may not be particularly thrilling, it is still essential for safety purposes that drivers keep their minds focused on the task at hand.
Distracted driving is one of the many mistakes at the wheel that might open someone to financial and legal liability if they cause a crash.