When you hear the term “distracted driving,” you probably think about people using their cellphones to send or receive text messages. While texting is still a serious problem on our roadways, it is not the only distraction that leads to crashes.
There are three major types of distraction – manual, visual and cognitive – and multi-tasking behind the wheel often involves more than one type.
Not watching the road
You may as well drive with your eyes closed if you keep looking at objects other than those that are on the road in front of you. As a driver, visual distractions, from highway accidents to looking for the cell phone you dropped on the floor, are all around you.
Manual distraction refers to taking your hands off the steering wheel. It could be to change the station on your radio, to answer an incoming message on your phone or to reach for something in the console. You see people every day who are guilty of taking their hands off the wheel. Drivers feel they can multi-task without incident when they eat or drink, put on makeup, comb their hair or program the GPS system.
Clogging the brain
Cognitive distraction refers to taking your mind off the road so that the task of driving competes with doing any number of other things. However, your brain can only process a certain amount of information at any one time. Accidents happen when you overload your brain with other issues or tasks.
The danger in texting
Young drivers are especially guilty of texting while driving. They know it is dangerous but tend to think they can do it without consequences. A personal injury attorney will tell you that the reason texting is so dangerous is that it involves all three major types of distraction simultaneously. This is not a good combination, but neither is simply taking your hands off the wheel for a few seconds or gawking at an accident at the side of the road. After all, your goal should be to reach your destination in one piece, not to take a detour to the hospital because you succumbed to distracted driving.