It is all too easy to gloss over distracted driving and assume it just means texting and driving. While texting is absolutely one of the most distracting -- and common -- activities that people engage in on the road, it is certainly not the only type of distraction.
In fact, researchers note that there are three different ways that drivers get distracted behind the wheel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe these three main types as:
- Cognitive distractions: These are anything that take your mind away from the task at hand.
- Physical distractions: These are activities that make you physically stop driving the car, or at least stop putting your full physical effort into it.
- Visual distractions: These are distractions that cause you to look away from the road.
For example, you may find yourself getting lost in thought after a hard day at work, when you worry that you could lose your job. That is a cognitive distraction. You could take your hand off of the wheel to hold that morning cup of coffee on the way in to work the next day. That is a physical distraction. You could look over to the shoulder to gawk at a previous accident during your commute. That is a visual distraction.
The real danger of texting and driving
There is a reason that you hear people talk about texting and driving so often. The problem is that this activity often brings all three main distractions together.
For instance, perhaps your cellphone is in your pocket, and you have to reach down to dig it out. You then keep one hand off of the wheel to type out your message. As you do so, you keep looking away from the road to see exactly what you're typing, or to read the messages that are coming in. At the same time, you continuously think through what you want to say, you think about the previous conversations you have had with the person you are texting and you consider outside social forces: Your relationship with this person, what he or she is likely to say in response and the nature of your relationship, whether it is personal or business-oriented.
Clearly, texting in the car takes your mind off of driving, it takes your hands off of the wheel and it takes your eyes off of the road. Any one of those is enough to cause a serious accident. Doing all three at the same time just makes it that much more likely.
Have you been hit by another driver who was texting at the time of the accident? If so, make sure you understand all of your legal rights to compensation.