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Understanding the Three Types of Distracted Driving

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. This month, the National Safety Council (NSC) works to raise awareness of all the distractions drivers face to help them make safer choices behind the wheel and avoid accidents.

There are three types of distraction drivers face – manual, visual, and cognitive. Sometimes, a driver faces two or more types of distraction at once, making it difficult for him or her to focus on driving. Every distraction a driver faces increases his or her chance of causing an accident, making the driver liable for any personal injury damages he or she causes a victim to suffer. Below are examples of the distractions in each of these three categories.

Manual Distractions

Manual distractions are actions that require the driver to take his or her hands off the steering wheel. These include:

  • Using a cell phone;
  • Smoking;
  • Eating;
  • Drinking;
  • Adjusting the vehicle’s radio or onboard computer; and
  • Turning and reaching to pick up objects.

Visual Distractions

Visual distractions are distractions that take the driver’s eyes off the road. These include:

  • Admiring the scenery outside the car;
  • Engaging in conversation with passengers or focusing on another vehicle;
  • Reading messages on a cell phone screen;
  • Looking at a GPS or onboard computer for directions;
  • Grooming; and
  • Adjusting the vehicle’s temperature or radio.

Using a cell phone to text, send emails, or navigate is a visual and manual distraction because it requires the driver to shift his or her eyes to the phone’s screen while using his or her fingers to navigate and communicate.

Cognitive Distractions

When a driver focuses his or her attention on something other than safely operating the vehicle, he or she is experiencing a cognitive distraction. Just like a driver faces both a visual and manual distraction when he or she uses a cell phone while driving, it is possible for a driver to be cognitively distracted while also being visually and/or manually distracted. Sending and receiving text messages is one example of a distraction that fits all three categories.

Other examples of cognitive distractions drivers face include:

  • Conversations with passengers in the vehicle;
  • “Road rage,” incidents of becoming angry with other drivers on the roadway;
  • Daydreaming while driving;
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol or another drug; and
  • Focusing on the music or content on the radio to the point of losing focus on driving.

Work with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

If you were injured in a collision with a distracted driver, you have the right to pursue monetary compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. To learn more about your rights and how you can pursue compensation for your damages this way, schedule your initial consultation with one of the experienced personal injury lawyers at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. We can answer all of your questions and represent your case as you focus on recovering from your injury.

Published April 19, 2018
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