It seems as if new distractions present themselves with every technological advance in a vehicle and every new cell phone that is released. From eating and personal grooming to reading a map and sending a text, drivers can find countless ways to distract themselves while behind the wheel. People often think of driving distractions as a single entity, however, without considering the activities themselves or the types of distractions they offer. Unfortunately, while all distractions can lead to serious vehicle collisions, some are more dangerous than others.
Most often, driving distractions can be grouped into three different types of activities:
- Visual distractions: These entail taking your eyes off the road. This is probably the most common type of distraction as people can often be seen looking at a passenger while talking, looking at a cell phone to dial a number, looking into the passenger seat to grab a snack to eat or looking at a GPS unit to manipulate the menu.
- Manual distractions: This type of distraction involves taking your hands off the steering wheel. Common examples include eating, drinking, smoking, personal grooming or changing clothes. Anything that pulls a driver’s control away from the wheel will slow his or her reaction time in an emergency.
- Cognitive distractions: This category of distractions typically refers to the idea of taking your mind off the task at hand. While people might immediately think of daydreaming, the loss of cognitive focus can include listening to an interesting podcast, making a phone call or having a conversation with a passenger in the vehicle.
While all these types of distractions can lead to severe collisions, there are some activities that combine elements of the different categories. The biggest, most dangerous habit is texting while driving.
- Texting is a visual distraction: A driver will often look at the screen to read a message or type his or her response.
- Texting is a manual distraction: A driver will likely remove a hand from the steering wheel to hold the phone while typing a response.
- Texting is a cognitive distraction: A driver will generally ruminate about the discussion taking place either in processing the message received or formulating a response.
It is important that drivers take care to avoid any type of distraction while on the road. Motor vehicle collisions can result in catastrophic injuries such as brain damage, spinal cord damage or amputation. If you were injured in a vehicle crash, it is wise to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney.