The 3 Types of Driving Distractions and How You Can Prevent Them

car driver turned around talking to backseat passenger

Understanding the Types of Distracted Driving

A survey conducted through the California Office of Traffic Safety found that around 70% of residents identify distracted driving (specifically, texting and driving) as the most significant issue on the roadways. Despite the state implementing a law prohibiting drivers from using handheld electronic devices, this distraction accounts for 9% of all traffic fatalities nationwide.

However, texting and driving isn't the only issue drivers need to worry about. Driving distractions can be broken into three categories: visual, manual, and cognitive. Each can have severe impacts on one's ability to drive and reaction times for potential hazards. Read on to learn more about these categories and how you can prevent distracted driving.

What Qualifies as a Visual Distraction?

Visual distractions are some of the most common, as they are classified as those that take the driver's eyes off the road. These can come from anywhere - billboards, your phone, the radio, or even just cool cars driving next to you.

However, it can also be one of the most dangerous. Unlike other kinds of distractions, you have to see the road to know when to react to hazardous situations. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), taking your eyes off the road for even five seconds at 55 mph would be like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.

Although you can't control what outside of the vehicle may be distracting, one of the best ways to combat this is to limit the distractions inside the car. This means having your cellular device stored during the trip, choosing the music before you begin driving, or reducing the number of passengers in the vehicle for beginner drivers.

What Are Manual Distractions?

As the name suggests, manual distractions are anything that takes your hands off the steering wheel. Unfortunately, this is something that occurs pretty frequently for most drivers. From adjusting the climate or radio to searching for things in the console, there are very few limits on manual distractions in your standard vehicle.

While it may seem that taking hands off the wheel for a short period isn't too dangerous, this action can significantly impact your ability to maneuver around unexpected obstacles in the road. For increased protection, having both hands on the wheel at all times improves your chances of getting out of tricky situations.

Believe it or not, one of the best ways to avoid manual distractions is to drive manual. Although this may require you to only have one hand on the steering wheel, it reduces the likelihood that you will want to pick up an electronic device or spend time messing with the climate controls. If you're not yet an expert at driving "stick," there are many other ways that you can avoid manual distractions, including having a passenger control the climate, radio, and text/call on your behalf.

What is a Cognitive Distraction?

You may have heard the advice that you should never drive when you are sad, angry, or tired. This is true because these are all some of the most common examples of cognitive distractions while driving.

Cognitive distractions are those that take your attention away from the road. These distractions are often unpredictable because no two people get mentally distracted by the same thing. One person may be stressed out about work, while another may not be able to focus on driving while engaging in conversations with passengers.

Since these do vary in nature so frequently, preventing them may not be so simple. That being said, you should always make sure that you are in the right mental headspace before getting behind the wheel. Stressful day at work? Take an extra 5-10 minutes to sit and reflect before starting the car. If you're someone who easily gets distracted by passengers, try to limit your involvement in conversations to red lights, traffic jams, or other stops.

How Our Newport Beach Attorneys Can Help

As distracted driving continues to be a nationwide issue, we continue to see more and more motorists harmed by engaging in this act of negligence. Manning Law, APC is dedicated to helping car accident victims recover damages for their injuries.

If you or a loved one are seeking legal action for a car crash resulting in injuries, call (800) 783-5006 to schedule a consultation today.

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