Despite growing awareness about the dangers of distracted driving, people still let their attention wander away from the road far too often – and that leads to numerous accidents. In fact, it’s estimated that nine people die in such accidents in the U.S. every single day.
That could be largely due to the fact that many people don’t fully understand what distracted driving really means. They may associate it solely with cellphone use and assume that as long as they go “hands-free,” they’re not really distracted – but that’s far from true. Distractions come in several different forms.
Visual distractions occur when a driver’s eyes are taken off the road. They can range from momentarily glancing at something inside the vehicle (like a cellphone) to “rubbernecking” around a traffic accident. They also include, however, things like:
- Adjusting the stereo system
- Looking at the GPS map
- Adjusting temperature controls
- Reading flashing billboards
Visual distractions significantly impair a driver’s ability to recognize and react to potential hazards. Even a split-second lapse in attention can result in missed traffic signals or the failure to spot a pedestrian in the road – or worse.
Manual distractions involve any actions that cause a driver to take a hand (or both hands) off the steering wheel. Examples of manual distractions include:
- Eating lunch out of a drive-thru bag
- Drinking a coffee on the morning commute
- Grooming, like fixing hair or shaving on the go
- Handing children toys or snacks
- Trying to restrain a pet while in motion
Manual distractions compromise a driver’s ability to steer their vehicle, maintain their proper lane position and respond to unexpected situations.
Cognitive distractions occur when something causes a driver’s mind to wander away from the task of driving. The problem with cognitive distractions is that they can literally come from inside a driver’s own head. Some common examples include:
- Daydreaming about weekend plans
- Having intense conversations with a passenger
- Mulling over an earlier argument or problem
Cognitive distractions compromise a driver’s mental processing and decision-making capabilities, which is not something you want behind the wheel of a vehicle.
You can do your part to eliminate distracted driving by simply being more conscious of the problem – but that may not spare you from a wreck. If you’re hurt by another driver’s negligent or reckless behavior behind the wheel, learn what it takes to receive fair compensation by seeking experienced legal guidance.