No sensible driver would close his or her eyes for five seconds when driving. Try it: one pink elephant…two pink elephants…three pink elephants…four pink elephants… five pink elephants. That’s a long time, right? Think about closing your eyes driving down the freeway at 55 mph for those five seconds. What would you miss? Even on an empty highway, what if someone comes off an exit and cuts in front of you? What if an animal runs into the road? What if you didn’t see that car without their lights? What if you veer into the barrier? There are so many variables when driving that when you’re texting and driving, changing the radio station, checking the mirror for that second too long, or any number of distractions, you put yourself and others in danger. What are the three types of distracted driving and how can you avoid them? Here’s how to understand distracted driving, and amend your habits.
The Three Types of Distracted Driving
The three types of distracted driving are:
- Manual Distractions
- Visual Distractions
- Cognitive Distractions
Manual distractions are those that force you to take your hands off the wheel. Manual distractions include:
- Adjusting the radio
- Searching through your purse or wallet
- Turning dials in the car
- Helping a child with their seat belt or car seat
Manual distractions are dangerous because one or both hands are off the wheel and stop the driver from being able to steer correctly, and impair reaction time. This type of distraction may cause the car to veer off the road.
Visual distractions allow you to take your eyes off the road. These distractions include:
- Operating a GPS
- Reading messages on a smartphone
- Browsing on a playlist
- Reaching or searching for an item
- Putting on makeup
- Staring at scenery or billboards
- Searching for items you dropped on the floor of the car
- Adjusting the temperature controls
Visual distractions cause a driver to drive blind. They’re dangerous because the driver can no longer assess his or her surroundings or identify potential hazards.
Cognitive distractions take your mind off driving, and this type of distraction is common. Cognitive distractions include:
- Talking to passengers
- Talking on speakerphone
- Checking email
- Driving when drowsy
- Road rage
- Thinking about something upsetting
- Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Cognitive distractions are tricky because there’s no physical distraction, but the mind is powerful. Even using hands-free devices to make calls is no safer than using handheld devices. The National Safety Council (NSC) argues that when talking on a hands-free device, drivers miss 50% of visual cues outside the windshield, so that’s like driving half blind.
How Can You Avoid Distracted Driving?
Some argue that tougher laws need to be put in place for distracted driving, which may hinder people from driving unsafely. To avoid distracted driving, it’s important to understand what distracted driving is. Many understand that texting and driving is distracting, but may not understand that looking at the GPS or changing the radio station can be equally distracting. Text messaging, in fact, is a manual, visual, and cognitive distraction, and increases the likelihood of accidents by four times.
It’s important to be alert when driving, and try and reduce distractions. Make sure before you drive, you eat your meals. With the advent of drive-throughs that are prevalent in the US, it’s easy to eat whilst driving or drink that big-gulp, but it’s not always the safest. Tune the radio in or the iPod or Podcast to the channel you want it to be on for the duration of the drive. Place your sunglasses within reach or put them on so you won’t be reaching for them when driving. For your cell phone, turn it off, put it in the backseat, and download an app that will answer your incoming messages, letting everyone know you’re driving. Program the GPS before you leave your house, and set a good example by showing other drivers and passengers that you practice safe driving habits. Make sure your friends don’t see you answering texts behind the wheel or succumbing to other distractions.
Have you been involved in an accident involving a distracted driver?
Contact a trusted attorney if you think you’ve been in an accident caused by a distracted driver. Car accidents can have a long-term psychological impact on an individual, and the aftermath is complicated. An attorney can give you a FREE case consultation and discuss your options, help you make a claim, and help you understand what compensation you may have due to you. Coxwell & Associates, PLLC has over 36 years of experience helping with distracted driving cases in Mississippi. Call us today.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.