What Counts as Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is very dangerous, and results in thousands of injuries and deaths each year in the U.S. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 3,500 people were killed and nearly 400,000 people were injured in distracted driving accidents in 2015. While some people think using a cell phone while driving is the only type of distracted driving, there are several other activities that could cause you to lose focus from the road.

Here’s what you need to know:

There Are 3 Main Types of Distractions

1. Physical/Manual Distractions

These distractions take your hands off the wheel. In order to drive safely, you should always have both hands firmly on the wheel. That way, if you need to make a quick maneuver to avoid a collision, you will be able to do so. Having just one hand on the wheel might seem like a safe and comfortable option while driving. However, it can increase your risk of an accident. Thus, you should keep both hands on the wheel while driving to ensure you have full control over the car.

Types of manual distractions include:

  • Holding a cell phone
  • Eating a sandwich
  • Drinking from a bottle of water
  • Fiddling with A/C or radio controls
  • Reaching into the back seat for something
  • Digging through a purse or pocket

2. Visual Distractions

These are distractions that take your eyes off the road. While driving, it is important to keep your eyes scanning the road in front of you. You should also check your mirrors regularly, as well as your blind spots when making a turn or changing lanes. If you are distracted from the road, you will be unable to see dangerous conditions and avoid an accident. Keeping your eyes on the road is crucial to driving safely, and you need to avoid visual distractions at all times.

Types of visual distractions include:

  • Glancing down at your phone
  • Reading a map or GPS
  • Focusing on someone else in the car
  • Looking at beautiful scenery

3. Cognitive Distractions

Also known as mental distractions, these take your mind off of driving. Even if your eyes are on the road and both hands are on the wheel, you may still be mentally distracted. This is very dangerous, because you will be paying attention to other things, and will not be able to recognize dangerous situations in time to prevent a collision. Cognitive distractions are particularly dangerous because you may not realize you are distracted until you are jarred out of it. This means, if you are not careful, you could be driving while distracted without even knowing it.

Types of cognitive distractions include:

  • Having a heated conversation with a passenger
  • Daydreaming
  • Being “lost” in a good song on the radio
  • Worrying about work or family issues
  • Thinking about something other than driving
  • Using voice-to-text software to send a message

How Can You Avoid Distractions?

It is important to take steps to protect yourself and others on the road. You should identify areas of distractions in your driving habits, and make necessary changes. For example, if you eat a breakfast sandwich while driving on the way to work every morning, you should pull over and each quickly in the parking lot instead of eating on the go. It is also a good idea to adjust all A/C and radio controls before starting your trip, and to mentally calm yourself and focus on the road.

Cell phones take your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road, and your mind off of driving. Thus, it is very dangerous to make calls or send texts while driving. If necessary, you should pull over and park before checking your phone, and keep it on mute while you drive. This will limit your distractions and help you avoid a crash.

Goeing Goeing & McQuinn PLLC has more than 20 years of combined legal experience. If you have been injured by a negligent or reckless driver, our Lexington car accident attorneys can fight for your case as you seek justice. Call our office today at (859) 534-9327 to schedule a free consultation.

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