What Are the 3 Types of Distractions While Driving

Jul 5, 2017

This guide answers all your questions regarding the three main types of distracted driving. It explains these distracted driving types in detail while providing tools for you and your loved ones to avoid these harmful distractions.

Most people assume that drunk or inexperienced drivers cause the most incidents regarding automobile accidents. However, many of these car accident injuries result from distracted driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that approximately 391,000 people suffered injuries in 2015 due to distracted driving.

If you’re involved in a distracted driver accident that you didn’t cause, you might need the help of a Denver car accident attorney to help see your claim through the legal process. At The Paul Wilkinson Law Firm, our attorneys care most about getting you the compensation you deserve for distracted driver-caused accidents.

Use this guide to better understand distracted driving statistics and conceptualize the three types of distracted driving that put drivers at risk. No matter how skilled people think they are at driving, getting distracted can be dangerous, even if only for a second. Don’t fall prey to this easily avoidable danger.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving includes anything that takes your mind, eyes, or hands off the wheel and road. It takes three seconds to shift your attention back to the task of driving after you’re distracted, and while this may seem like a menial amount of time, it doesn’t take long for accidents to occur.

Your car travels at high speeds, so it doesn’t take long for a distraction to cause catastrophic damage. Because automobiles travel at such high speeds, it is more difficult for drivers to anticipate hazardous conditions after being distracted, even if for only a short time.

What Are the Three Types of Distracted Driving?

The three types of distractions drivers face are visual, manual, and cognitive distractions.

Visual – taking your eyes off the road.
Manual – taking your hands off the wheel.
Cognitive – taking your mind off the road.

Visual Distracted Driving

Visual distracted driving includes any time a driver’s visual attention diverts from the road. The instances that cause distracted driving range from texting to taking your eyes off the road while traveling on a scenic stretch of highway.

Regardless of the cause, the results of visual distracted driving can be fatal. Because drivers must be aware of the rapidly changing road conditions, keeping their eyes on the road is crucial.

Texting While Driving

Driving while texting in Colorado is currently prohibited and can result in significant penalties. The current texting-while-driving Colorado laws include stipulations that drivers must adhere to, such as:

  • Texting while driving is prohibited.
  • Drivers under 18 are prohibited from all cell phone use while driving. (This includes hands-free devices.)

In addition to the Colorado laws that already exist, Current legislation is under consideration that could result in stiffer penalties for drivers caught texting while driving.

Texting While Driving Law Exemptions

Drivers may use their cell phones while driving if they experience the following conditions:

  • The drivers fear for their life or safety.
  • The driver believes a criminal act is taking place.
  • The driver is reporting a fire.
  • The driver is reporting a careless driver.

Of the 36,750 lives lost to motor accidents in 2018, 5.7% of those were caused by texting drivers. Texting while driving may seem innocuous, but it can cause fatalities quicker and more suddenly than one realizes.

Outside Occurrences

It is not uncommon to be driving along and find something eye-catching. Perhaps there is an accident on the roadside, or another driver is doing something strange. Regardless, focusing on something other than what is in front of you is dangerous. Drivers should not be engaging in rubbernecking. Plenty of other things can cause a driver to become distracted, such as eating something or adjusting climate controls. However, everyone should be as safe as possible to avoid auto accidents.

Manual Distracted Driving

Texting while driving isn’t only an example of visual distraction; if someone takes their hands off the wheel, it can also be a manual distraction. Another common type of manual distracted driving is eating/or drinking.

Eating/Drinking Distracted Driving

No matter someone’s hunger level, they should never take their hands off the wheel to grab that burger or sandwich in the passenger seat. This type of distracted driving can also be visual because you might take your eyes off the road by reaching for your food items or taking a bit out of your sandwich. According to a study by Lytx, drivers who are eating/drinking are 3.7 times more likely to be involved in a car crash than their attentive counterparts. Additionally, eating/drinking causes many near-miss accidents. This is because people can keep their eyes on the road some of the time while eating, but they still wind up diverting some attention to the act of eating and drinking.

Eating/Drinking Laws in Colorado

While Colorado laws don’t explicitly rule out eating/drinking non-alcoholic beverages, distracted driving is against the law. Thus, you could face legal consequences if you cause an accident due to eating your lunch in the car while driving.

Vice versa, if someone hits you with their car because they were distracted by eating, you might be entitled to damages. In both cases, an experienced car or motorcycle injury attorney can walk you through the legal process to ensure no one can take advantage of you.

Cognitive Distracted Driving

Have you ever driven somewhere and you have no clue how you got there upon arrival? The third type of distracted driving is cognitive distracted driving, which involves no tangible source for the distraction. Cognitive distractions include being lost in thought and talking to other passengers.

Lost in Thought While Driving

Bloomberg found that ten percent of auto accidents are caused by distracted driving, and of those accidents, 62% were caused by drivers who were lost in thought.

People occasionally daydream or get lost in thought while driving. While it happens to everyone, being aware of the dangers of this distraction can potentially save lives.

Talking to Passengers While Driving

According to federal data, texting while driving isn’t the most dangerous type of distracted driving. “What is the most common cause,” you ask? Talking to the person in the passenger seat.

This statistic may come as a surprise to you, given all of the attention paid to cracking down on texting while driving. However, the statistic makes sense if you think about the attention level you pay to passengers and how humans communicate.

Humans don’t only communicate using their voices; they use their bodies for physical gestures. Additionally, while a text appears one at a time, conversations have a steady stream of information on which to focus. These factors may explain why talking while driving is one of the most dangerous distractions.

Consider Your Distracted Driving Habits and Call Paul if You Have Distracted Driving Legal Issues

Distracted driving can have fatal consequences. Educating yourself on the various risks of indulging in such practices is essential. This guide explained the three types of distracted driving and the emerging distracted driving laws. Use it as a guide to benefit your driving habits.

The Paul Wilkinson Law Firm has attorneys specializing in all sorts of accidents, including distracted driver accidents. If you or a loved one has been involved in a distracted driving accident, contact us today to schedule a free consultation by calling (303) 333-7285 or visit our website for more information about our legal services.

The Paul Wilkinson Law Firm | Website | + posts

The Paul Wilkinson Law Firm is a team of personal injury attorneys in Denver, CO serving victims of car, truck and motorcycle accidents. Each of our lawyers is licensed with the Colorado State Bar (CBA) and specialize in injury law.

We've recovered tens of millions of dollars in personal injury settlements and verdicts for our clients. For 13+ years we've helped thousands of people get back on their feet after experiencing serious injuries. We will take your case to trial and get the maximum settlement possible.

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