When you think of a distracted driver, you probably imagine someone with their eyes on the phone in their hand instead of the road in front of them.
That’s with good reason, distracted driving behaviors have climbed alongside cellphone use. However, it’s not the only way for drivers to lose their focus on the road.
The three kinds of distraction
Most drivers assume distracted driving means taking your eyes off the road ahead of you. And while, yes, that is an extremely common and dangerous form of distraction, it’s far from the only one.
In fact, there are three kinds of distracted driving that can put yourself and your passengers at risk:
1) Visually distracted
As the name implies, this means taking your eyes off the road for any reason. It may not seem like a big deal to glance away for an instant, but five seconds at 55 miles per hour takes you the length of a football field.
Common activities that take your eyes off the road include cellphone use (of course). Looking at traffic accidents on the shoulder of the road or watching your GPS also counts.
2) Manually distracted
This form of distraction involves taking your hands off the wheel. While the old driving method of nine-to-three is outdated, you should still keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times. This gives you the best chance to react to unexpected obstacles.
Some ways people become manually distracted include: changing climate controls in the car, changing radio stations or music or eating and drinking while driving.
3) Cognitively distracted
Perhaps the most abstract form of distraction, cognitive distraction is when your mind isn’t really on the task of driving. It means you aren’t fully aware of factors like the road condition or changing weather.
There are several ways someone can find themselves distracted mentally, including being preoccupied with family or work stress, talking to a passenger or on the phone and focusing on a podcast or book on tape.
Keeping Virginia roads safe
Everyone deserves to arrive at their destination and by actively focusing on avoiding distractions you can play a part in keeping our roads safe.
If you are aware of the potential for distraction, you can recognize the behavior in yourself and your loved ones. Unfortunately, many drivers do not consider these distractions when on the road. If you are in an accident because of a distracted driver, a knowledgeable attorney can help.