Cognitive distraction occurs when a driver’s focus shifts from the act of driving to any other mentally engaging task. This kind of distraction reduces a driver’s ability to process the information necessary to navigate safely.
Unlike visual or manual distractions, cognitive distractions can be harder to notice because they occur internally, with the driver’s eyes possibly still on the road but their mind elsewhere. This phenomenon becomes particularly dangerous because it creates a false sense of security.
The danger of cognitive distraction
A driver might believe they are paying attention because they are looking ahead. Still, their mind’s engagement with non-driving-related thoughts severely impairs their ability to make quick, informed decisions. The subtle nature of cognitive distractions means they can quickly go unnoticed, increasing the risk of accidents. This lag in response can be critical, turning what would be a manageable situation under full attention into a dangerous or even deadly encounter.
Understanding cognitive distractions
Conversing with passengers, thinking about personal issues or mentally rehearsing an upcoming presentation are just a few instances where cognitive distractions can take hold. Listening to a podcast or an audiobook can lead to cognitive distraction if the driver becomes too involved in the content and diverts their mental focus from driving.
The impact on road safety
The consequences of cognitive distraction on road safety are significant. Even a five-second distraction can have disastrous impacts. In that short time, a vehicle moving 55 miles per hour will go the length of a football field.
For victims of these crashes, medical care is often necessary. This can lead to costly medical care. Those victims may choose to seek compensation for their financial damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Tennessee law limits how long victims have to do this, so it’s vital to work swiftly.