You’ve probably heard that distracted driving is incredibly dangerous. You may even have read the crash statistics that find distracted driving is a contributing factor in around a quarter of all crashes and 8% of fatal crashes.
Yet, you might not understand exactly how distractions work when you are driving. There are three main types of distractions: visual, cognitive and manual.
1. Visual distractions
This is what most people likely think of first. When you are looking at a phone screen or at your dog jumping around the car, you are not looking at the road. The distraction occupies your eyes.
2. Manual distractions
If you are punching buttons on an electronic device, holding a coffee cup or rummaging through your bag, you need to take a hand off the wheel. In some cases, people even take both hands off the wheel when driving. For instance, when unwrapping a sandwich. Steering with your elbows or forearms is not a safe option, and keeping two hands on the wheel is best.
3. Cognitive distractions
What are you thinking about while driving? If you are on the phone, you are probably thinking about what the other person said or how to respond. If you are staring at a billboard offer on vacation, you might be wondering if it’s too early to invite your new date to go with you and share a room for the week.
Visual and manual distractions stop the minute you focus your eyes back on the road or your hands back on the wheel. Yet cognitive distractions can last for minutes afterward.
While a driver might have their hands on the wheel and be staring straight ahead, it does not mean they are not distracted. If their mind is elsewhere and they injure you in a crash, seek legal help to hold them responsible.