When you think about distracted driving, you probably imagine someone texting and driving. While that is one of the more serious examples of this issue, it’s just one symptom of a much larger problem. That’s because the truth about distracted driving is that it’s not any single thing, and the more we ignore it, the worse it gets.
Three Types of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving isn’t any single action. According to the CDC, it is a combination of three kinds of behaviors those being visual distractions, manual distractions, and cognitive distractions. A given distraction can fall into any of these or even all three. Let’s take a closer look at each.
This describes anything that causes you to take your hands off the steering wheel. It might be something as simple as changing the radio station or putting directions into your phone. Even if your eyes and mind are focused on the road, manual distractions reduce your control of the vehicle and prolong your reaction times, making you less capable of responding to a hazard on the road.
If something takes your eyes off the road, even for a moment, it is a visual distraction. It might be looking at your GPS or reading a billboard. When your eyes are off the road, you are less likely to notice someone suddenly braking or a car driving in the wrong lane. Visual distractions are especially dangerous at high speeds because there’s even less time to react and prevent a potentially serious crash.
The final kind of driving distraction can seem difficult to define. A cognitive distraction is anything that takes your mind away from driving. It might be thinking about what you’re having for dinner, talking to a passenger, or formulating a voice-dictated text.
Cognitive distractions are terrifying because we often don’t realize we’re distracted at all. When you’re immersed in your thoughts, it’s like you’re driving on autopilot. You keep up just well enough to avoid a crash, but if the brake lights come on, you’ll likely be unprepared to act.
As we discussed previously, some distractions are so strong that they encompass all three kinds of distracted driving. We call these “triple threat” driving distractions.
These triple threats are much more common than you may recognize. Texting and driving or eating while driving are just two typical examples. Both of these actions cause you to take your hands off the wheel (reducing your reaction times), your eyes off the road (reducing your ability to perceive hazards), and your mind away from driving (reducing your ability to recognize hazards as dangerous).
This is why it’s so important to prevent texting while driving and other kinds of distracted driving. People are incapable of multitasking. Even if you think you’re just looking at your phone for a moment, you are putting yourself and those around you at risk of a car crash.
How Bad is Distracted Driving?
There are 6 million car crashes per year in the U.S. Of those, an estimated 1.6 million (26%) are caused by distracted driving. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving crashes are increasing every year. In the past two years, these crashes increased by 10%, claiming more than 3,100 lives.
With accidents rising and the death toll increasing, now is the time to act. We must all do our part to put distractions aside and focus wholly on driving. Each time we look away or indulge a distraction, even for a moment, we are putting ourselves and those around us at risk.
If you were injured by a distracted driver, let us fight for you. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Bryan car accident lawyer from The Payne Law Group, don’t hesitate to contact our firm at (979) 300-7406 or send us an email.