The term “distracted driving” can apply to any situation in which a driver is not paying enough attention to the road while driving. While this may seem straightforward, many American drivers may engage in distracting actions while on the road without realizing it. Most people typically assume “distractions” are visual elements, but there are actually three different types of distracted driving, and each can be incredibly dangerous.
The Three Types of Distraction
Drivers need to focus on the primary task at hand on the road: driving. Unfortunately, cell phones, food, cosmetics, and other distractions can cause serious accidents when drivers allow their attention to waver. Advocates against distracted driving have outlined the three main types of distractions, and it’s vital for every driver to understand the risks of all three:
- Visual distractions are anything that causes a driver to look away from the road. This could include a parent turning around to settle fussing children, looking at an accident on the side of the road, reading messages on a phone, or anything else that draws the eyes off the road ahead.
- Manual distractions are anything that requires the use of the driver’s hands. A driver’s hands should always be on the wheel while the vehicle is in motion, or on the wheel and gear shift if driving a manual transmission vehicle. Adjusting stereos, changing the vehicle’s climate control settings, eating, applying makeup, smoking, or engaging in any other activity that requires moving the hands away from operating the vehicle is a manual distraction.
- Cognitive distractions describe drivers who are mentally preoccupied with thoughts other than driving. The human brain processes visual information in unpredictable ways at times, and stress and mental distractions can cause a driver’s attention to wander away from the road. This can make it more difficult for the driver to adjust to changing road conditions or stop in time to avoid a collision with another vehicle.
Any of these distractions can be deadly or seriously damaging on the road, and drivers should make every effort to stay focused on driving while behind the wheel. One of the most dangerous activities behind the wheel is texting while driving. Texting essentially encompasses all three types of distracted driving in one action: the driver must use his or her hands to use the phone, eyes to read the message, and the driver’s attention is going to focus on the texts and not the road. This is an incredibly dangerous activity and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than 1,100 people suffer injuries and eight people die each day due to texting behind the wheel.
There is always an alternative to distracted driving, and the penalties for causing an accident due to distractions can be severe. In addition to civil actions filed by injured drivers, distracted drivers can also face license suspension or even criminal charges in some situations. It’s essential for drivers to know and understand their local laws concerning distracted driving, and to avoid distractions at all times behind the wheel as a best practice.
If lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, our Birmingham wrongful death lawyers at Powers Injury Law are here to help.