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Cellphone use is the poster child of distracted driving campaigns, and it’s easy to see why. It is a “triple-threat” driving distraction, meaning that it pulls at all the senses you need to be an effective driver. But how exactly does that happen, and why is it that texting and driving can cause a crash even when you’re not holding your phone? Allow us to explain.

Triple Threat

The CDC identifies three types of distracted driving: visual distractions, manual distractions, and cognitive distractions. Any single distraction that encompasses all three kinds is considered a “triple-threat.” Let’s take a look at how cell phone use meets all three criteria.

  • Visual: Looking at a text and the keyboard on your phone.
  • Manual: Using your hands to write a response
  • Cognitive: The mental focus needed to read the text and formulate a response.

Hands-free texting does not mitigate the triple threat. As we discussed previously, studies have shown that the mental strain of navigating phone menus in your mind is just as distracting as texting with your hands. The same applies to making a phone call while driving.

A Constant Reminder

Even when you’re not actively using your phone, it is still pulling at your cognitive focus. Have you ever glanced at your phone after a notification? Or maybe you ignored it, but got to thinking about what it might be? Those are visual and cognitive distractions, respectively.

This effect is exacerbated whenever you can see or hear your phone. You might put your phone on a mount while driving and find yourself reading every text that comes in, just because it’s at eye level. Even if you have it in your pocket and can avoid looking, you are still prone to the cognitive distraction of wondering what the notification is about. Cellphones apps are designed to pull at your attention, and they don’t care when you’re driving.

The most effective way to avoid these distractions is by putting your phone away entirely. Put it on “do not disturb” while driving and keep it out of reach, like in the glove box. When you’re not worrying about your phone, you can put all of your attention on driving and make the roads safer for everyone.

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.