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What Are the Biggest Distractions to Drivers?

According to CDC data, 2,800 of all people that died from auto accidents in 2018 involved distracted diving. While no age group is immune to distracted driving, young drivers are more prone to distraction while on the road.

Many know talking on the phone or texting as the only form of distracted driving. But there is more to distracted driving than using a phone. According to CDC, distracted driving occurs when a driver engages in any activity that gets the mind off the road.

Distracted driving falls under three categories; visual, manual, and cognitive.

Visual Distractions

There is always an interesting thing to look at when driving. Unfortunately, some interesting things along the road can steal a driver’s attention so much that they fail to focus on the road. Visual distractions can be the scenery, an accident scene, or any activity on the side of the road.

According to experts, even the most careful driver spends more than half their time focused on something else other than the road. While it is normal to have your focus off the road for some split seconds, conscious rubbernecking increases the possibility of an accident by a very significant margin.

Manual Distractions

Manual distractions get more than eyes off the road. They involve having one hand or both off the wheel. Some of the most common forms of manual distractions include talking on the phone, texting, flipping channels on the car stereo, checking out or setting GPS devices, smoking, and eating.

Calling or writing a text requires the driver to look at the phone for some seconds at a time. While it may seem like a short time, experts say that taking your eyes off the road for two seconds while going 50 miles per hour is equivalent to driving 25 meters blindfolded.

Manual distraction is becoming an increasing concern as new features such as touch screen devices get added to new car dashboards. “If you must do something that requires using your hands and eyes simultaneously, it is best to pull over to finish the activity before proceeding,” says car accident lawyer Max Paderewski of Lone Star Injury Attorneys.

Cognitive Distraction

It is possible to have both hands on the wheel and your eyes seemingly on the road but be cognitively away from the road. According to statistics, 62 percent of all distracted driver cases involved cognitive distraction. This kind of distraction occurs when a driver’s mind is completely detached from the task at hand, which in this case is operating a vehicle.

There are many reasons why a person may get cognitively detached from operating the vehicle. These reasons include getting deep in thought, getting lost in conversations with other passengers, or getting lost in a song or anything playing on the vehicle’s stereo.

Sometimes it can happen without external influence. For some people, driving and focusing on the road produces some form of hypnosis resulting in the driver’s detachment from driving, especially if a driver drives for long hours without rest or when they are sleep-deprived.

Accidents involving distracted driving can occur at any time and can affect any driver, even the most careful. But knowing when a driver is distracted can help you stay safe on the road. Some tell-tale signs of a distracted driver include drifting in and out of lane, speeding, and erratic braking. It is best to exercise caution when driving near such drivers if you notice these habits.

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