Distracted driving is a grave problem on American roadways, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that distracted driving behaviors claim eight lives and cause more than 1,100 injuries in the United States every day. Many people tend to associate the term "distracted driving" with texting behind the wheel, and while this is certainly a common and dangerous action that falls under the umbrella term, there are numerous other behaviors that are equally as dangerous.
Distracted driving actions are generally categorized into one of three main categories: visual distractions, manual distractions and cognitive distractions.
Visual distractions are those that divert your eyes and visual attention away from the roadway and the immediate task at hand. Your in-dash GPS system can be considered a visual distraction, as can turning around to make sure your kids are properly buckled up. Essentially, anything that takes your eyes away from the road can fall into this category.
Manual distractions are those that lead you to remove your hands from the steering wheel and automotive controls. Maybe you are fishing around in your purse looking for money to pay a toll, or maybe you are turning around to pick up that hamburger your child dropped in the backseat. Eating and drinking behind the wheel also fall under this category.
Cognitive distractions are those that divert your attention and brainpower away from the task at hand. This can include anything from engaging in an animated conversation with another passenger, to crying or shouting because of something going on in your personal life, such as a breakup or the passing of someone close to you. Even listening to a book on tape while you are driving can be considered a cognitive distraction, so it is best to avoid any practice that may take your attention away from the roadway.
Combined distractions can be particularly deadly
Some distracted driving behaviors, such as texting, are especially problematic because they involve multiple types of driver distraction. Texting behind the wheel causes visual, manual and cognitive disruptions, driving home the importance of refraining from engaging in this widely documented, extremely dangerous behavior.
Most of these actions are also entirely avoidable, so next time you get behind the wheel, be sure to tie up any loose ends beforehand so that your attention is not pulled in multiple directions. If you are involved in a vehicular accident because of the actions of a distracted driver, a personal injury attorney can assess your case and help you pursue compensation for any injuries or damages you've sustained as a result.