When we think of distracted driving, there’s a tendency to focus solely on cellphones. 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.
What’s The Harm?
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 tragedy 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.
The Big Three
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 of their vehicles, meaning they usually don’t slow down even when a crash is imminent.
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.
While each of these three driving distractions can cause a crash on their 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 their in danger until the moment of impact.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries at the hands of a distracted driver, you might have a case. If you’d like an experienced DeKalb County car accident attorney from Turner & Sackett LLC to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (800) 761-0993. To learn more about our firm, visit our About Us page.