Picture an example of distracted driving. You probably went straight to someone using their cellphone, right? While that is an example of distracted driving, it's just one of the hundreds of possible distractions.
While there are many driving distractions, you may be surprised to learn that the majority of traffic safety administrations have established three distinct types of driving distractions. Do you know them all?
The Three Types of Distracted Driving
A driving distraction is anything that causes a driver to lose mental focus, take their hands off the wheel, or their eyes off the road. With that in mind, the three categories are:
Manual Distractions: A manual distraction refers to anything that causes a driver to take their hands off the wheel. Whether it's reaching around for a nearby purse or changing the radio station, they distract the driver from the road and increase the likelihood of an accident.
Visual Distractions: Visual distractions occur when a driver takes their eyes off the road. This distraction is exceptionally easy to fall into. It might be a fancy billboard, a funny bumper sticker, an unusual paint job, or even a crash. These examples have something in common. Not only do they cause you to look away from the road, but they also cause your mind to wander.
Cognitive Distractions: Cognitive distractions are anything that causes you to lose focus. If you've ever gotten in a car and been surprised when you suddenly arrive at your destination, you fell victim to a cognitive distraction. Daydreaming is the most common cause, but anything that requires precision or mental strain, like math or carefully choosing your words, can also cause this kind of distracted driving.
The Power of Cognitive Distractions
Driving has become second nature to us. Most people don't fear driving. For that reason, we tend to be less conscious of the dangers of driving, which makes us more likely to indulge in distractions.
It is because of that trust in our own ability that we allow our minds to wander. Consider the three types of driving distractions again. They all involve different actions, but they all take a toll on our mental focus.
You don't just change the radio. You realize that you don't like what's on (a cognitive distraction), then reach for the radio (a manual distraction) and flip through stations (a visual distraction) until you find something you like (a cognitive distraction).
This points to a startling conclusion: there are three types of driving distractions, but most distractions invoke all of them. We call these "triple threats."
A triple threat is a driving distraction that causes draws your cognitive focus, takes your hands off the wheel, and your eyes off the road. Even if you're reaching for the AC while keeping your eyes on the road, you're still using cognitive power to exercise your peripheral vision.
Take a moment to consider just how many distractions invoke the "triple threat." Cellphones probably come to mind again. You look at the screen, you use your hands to navigate it, and you use mental focus to formulate your message or navigate an app.
Some argue that voice dictation makes texting and driving safe. While it does eliminate the visual and manual aspects of the triple threat, it doesn't make the practice any safer. Studies suggest that the mental strain of formulating text messages in your mind (or even talking on the phone while driving) is so great that voice diction is no safer than manually texting.
Your brain can only handle so many tasks at once. As driving becomes second nature, we tend to feel safe indulging in distractions. However, that is a false sense of security.
Anything that causes you to take your hands off the wheel or eyes off the road will cause you to take your mind off the road as well. That's why the best thing you can do is eliminate distractions before getting in the car and ignore new ones until you reach your destination.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries at the hands of a distracted driver, we are here for you. If you'd like to discuss your case with an experienced Easton personal injury attorneys from Meshkov & Breslin to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (610) 285-1963.