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The Three Types of Distracted Driving

Trusted Content
Legally reviewed by:
Erik Abrahamson
March 21, 2019
March 21, 2019 | Car Accidents
The Three Types of Distracted Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,450 people were killed by distracted driving in 2016 alone. Distracted driving is usually associated with texting or talking on the phone, but there are a number of different distractions that can impair a driver. Law enforcement and researchers tend to divide distracted driving into three types, manual, visual, and cognitive.

Manual Distraction

Manual distractions are those that involve the driver taking one or both hands off the wheel so that they can perform a task. Manual distractions include such things as eating and drinking, applying makeup, helping a child with their seatbelt, rummaging through personal belongings, smoking, and fiddling with the radio dial or air conditioning. These distractions are dangerous because, without both hands on the wheel, a driver can’t quickly react to situations in traffic.

Visual Distraction

Visual distractions are what people commonly associate with distracted driving. A visual distraction is any activity that causes your eyes to drift away from the road. This includes the typical texting while driving, looking at a navigation system, or looking at social media on a phone. Even things like reading billboards, looking at the scenery, or trying to see an accident on the road can be a visual distraction. Visual distractions are especially dangerous because a driver is unable to consistently assess their surroundings and watch for potential hazards in the road. A visually distracted driver may as well drive with their eyes closed. 

Cognitive Distraction

Cognitive distraction is less straightforward than manual and visual distractions. It does not involve taking your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road. Instead, cognitive distraction is anything that causes a driver’s mind and focus to drift away from driving. Cognitive distractions include talking on a hands-free cell phone, talking to other passengers, daydreaming, or listening to the radio. According to the National Safety Council, drivers looking out the windshield can miss 50% of what’s around them when talking on the phone. Cognitive distractions can be deceiving because, while drivers look as though they are paying attention, they are not able to fully process the hazards around them. 

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If you’ve been injured in an accident with a distracted driver, it’s important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we’ve been helping injured Floridians for over 30 years. Contact us online or call us at 1-800-538-4878 to set up your free consultation.

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