While most people will generally agree that certain activities can lead to the increased possibility of causing a motor vehicle collision, other activities often invite debate. Drinking coffee, for example, or listening to a favorite playlist on the way to work might not seem like negligent activities, but they might certainly pull a driver’s focus from the task at hand. Is there a way to frame driving distractions that can help drivers identify and avoid hazardous activities?
The CDC typically categorizes driving distractions in three ways – visual distractions, manual distractions and cognitive distractions.
- Visual distractions are those activities that take a driver’s eyes off the road. From looking at a GPS menu and selecting the next track on the audio system to reading a billboard and looking at an energetic pet in the back seat, any activity that pulls a driver’s eyes from the traffic around the car is a dangerous distraction.
- Manual distractions refer to activities that require a driver to remove his or her hands from the steering wheel. Even while watching the road, the driver can use his or her hands to perform actions such as eating from a bag of snacks in the passenger seat, unscrewing the cap from a bottle of water or manipulating the vehicle’s audio system. With the hands off the steering wheel, a driver is not able to properly react to changing traffic speeds or patterns.
- Cognitive distractions are instances that pull a driver’s focus and attention from the road. While the first example that often comes to mind is the act of “daydreaming,” cognitive distractions can also mean combinations of activities. For example, a driver looking at a large-scale construction project and wondering what the finished product will look like, or how long the project will last, can ignore traffic patterns immediately in front of his or her car while lost in thought. Additionally, an engaging conversation with a passenger or an engrossing discussion on a podcast can pull the driver’s attention from the safe operation of the vehicle.
Motor vehicle collisions caused by distracted or negligent drivers can lead to serious injuries such as brain trauma, spinal cord damage, paralysis and amputation. If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a crash caused by an inattentive driver, it is wise to discuss your options for monetary compensation with an experienced attorney.