From chatting on the phone to changing the music, many things can take our attention away from the task of driving. And while we might think that texting is the most dangerous distraction, it’s just one of many.
In fact, distracted driving contributed to over 3,100 fatalities in the United States in 2019. Another 424,000 people sustained injuries. So it’s essential to understand what counts as distracted driving and how we can avoid it.
Types of distracted driving
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts a person’s attention away from their primary task of driving. Drivers face numerous distractions that can take away their focus from driving safely:
- Visual distractions occur when a driver takes their eyes away from the road to look at something else.
- Manual distractions force a driver to take one or both hands off the steering wheel
- Cognitive distractions divert the driver’s attention away from the task at hand.
Texting while driving is an example of all three types since it requires visual focus, manual dexterity, and mental stimulation. However, texting isn’t the only form of distracted driving. Conversations with passengers, daydreaming, eating and drinking, adjusting temperature settings or radio dials, interacting with navigation systems or even smoking are all examples of how a driver’s attention can be diverted from the road.
Drivers also can face external distractions from billboards or other advertisements lining the road, people or animals passing by on the street, or scenic views that draw attention away from the task of driving.
Several safety initiatives and public service announcements warn people of the dangers of distracted driving. Unfortunately, many people fail to follow the rules leading to severe injuries or even death for others on the road. If you have been in an accident involving a distracted driver, you have rights and should receive compensation for the physical, financial and emotional impact it has had on your life.