If you ask people about distractive driving, the first thing most people are going to mention is the role of smartphones. And it’s true that distracted driving has become more of a problem since smartphones were invented. Drivers are often distracted by text messages, they have constant access to social media and they also use their phones for things like streaming music or programming a route on their GPS.
But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out that it is not cellphones alone that cause all driving-related distractions. As such, it’s important to think critically about the three different types of distractions that can occur while someone is behind the wheel in order to mitigate risk. All three types can be caused by phones, but they can also result from many different sources.
What are the 3 main types of driving-related distraction?
In order to know why distraction is so dangerous and why it keeps causing accidents, consider the three main types listed below:
- Cognitive distractions – These are distractions that take your mind off of driving so that you are thinking of something else, even if you’re looking at the road.
- Visual distractions – These are issues that cause you to look away from the road.
- Manual distractions – These include situations where you let go of the wheel or the car’s controls with at least one hand.
Interacting with smartphones involves all three of these distraction types. Imagine a driver who picks up their phone to send a text message. Since they have to reach and pick up the phone, it’s a manual distraction. Once they look down at the screen to type their text message, it becomes a visual distraction. As they decide how to compose that message and who to send it to, they are thinking more about their phone use than driving, so it is a cognitive distraction.
Again, smartphones are certainly not the only sources of distraction that drivers grapple with. Yet, because they inspire all three kinds of distraction, they are uniquely dangerous. Drivers who have been injured in distracted driving accidents need to know what legal options they have available to them. Seeking legal guidance can be helpful, regardless of what type(s) of distraction caused an injurious crash.