Distractions while driving are a significant concern for road safety, leading to numerous accidents and fatalities each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes three main types of distractions: cognitive, visual and manual.
Each type interferes with a driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for recognizing potential hazards and implementing strategies to minimize distractions behind the wheel.
Profiles of distraction types
Cognitive distractions occur when the driver’s mind isn’t entirely focused on driving. This can include daydreaming, stressing over personal issues, being engrossed in a deep conversation with a passenger, or using a hands-free device.
Visual distractions involve taking one’s eyes off the road. This can happen for various reasons, such as looking at a navigation system, reading billboards or checking on children in the rearview mirror.
Manual distractions require the driver to take one or both hands off the wheel. Eating, adjusting the radio or texting are all manual distractions.
The overlap between distraction types
Many distractions fit into more than one category. Texting while driving is a prime example, encompassing all three types of distractions. It demands cognitive attention to compose or read a message, visual attention to look at the phone screen and manual effort to type or scroll. This makes texting one of the most dangerous distractions, significantly increasing the risk of accidents.
Even short distractions pose issues
Some drivers falsely believe that short distractions won’t lead to issues. A vehicle doesn’t take long to travel considerable distances, especially when moving at higher speeds. In only five seconds, a vehicle moving 55 miles per hour will move the length of a football field. When a driver is distracted, that short distraction results in the vehicle moving that full length without adequate control.
Victims of distracted driving crashes may have considerable injuries, which can result in significant financial loss. The injured individuals can pursue a compensation claim to help cover those losses. Working with a legal representative enables a victim to focus on healing while the professional builds their case and gets it moving through the process.