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The 3 categories of distracted driving

Driving demands a significant amount of attention, yet many drivers partake in various other activities while on the road. Drivers who become too confident behind the wheel may start letting themselves become more distracted. No matter how good of a driver you are, distracted driving substantially increases your risk of experiencing a car accident.

There are three main types of distracted driving. Understanding and avoiding all three is important for your safety.

Visual distractions

This first type of distraction occurs when you are not looking at the road while driving. You may do plenty of visually distracting activities without realizing it. Visual distractions include looking for belongings on the floor, adjusting your GPS, adjusting temperature controls and doing your makeup. You can avoid visual distractions by pulling over to do these tasks.

Manual distractions

Anything that causes you to take your hands off the steering wheel is a manual distraction. Examples include eating and drinking, rummaging through your purse, smoking or adjusting knobs. Prevent these distractions from occurring by making adjustments to your car before driving, pulling over to smoke and not searching for belongings while driving.

Cognitive distractions

If you ever find your mind focusing on something else while driving, you have been cognitively distracted. Common cognitive distractions include talking to passengers, daydreaming, road rage or drinking while driving. Avoid these disruptions by remaining focused on the road and keeping your emotions at bay.

Texting encompasses all three

Some activities do not neatly fall into one of the main categories. Texting while driving is one activity that is especially dangerous because it distracts you in several ways:

  • Keeps your eyes off of the road, other cars and pedestrians around you.
  • Takes one or both hands off the steering wheel as you type out messages.
  • Causes you to concentrate on conversations rather than your driving environment.


The more distracted you are while driving, the likelihood of being involved in a motor vehicle accident increases.

Preventing distraction

In addition to the many laws being passed to decrease distracted driving, you can take matters into your own hands. Pulling over when necessary, relying on passengers to adjust the radio, putting your phone out of reach and staying calm will all make you a more focused and responsible driver.

Even when you take the necessary precautions to be a focused driver, you can never guarantee everyone else on the road is doing the same. If you are ever involved in an accident caused by distracted driving, speaking with an attorney may help you recover appropriate damages.

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