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The 3 types of driving distractions

If you’re looking for specific examples of driving distractions, they are nearly endless. Some drivers get distracted by music, others get distracted by passengers and still others get distracted by phones.

But you can take most driving distractions and sort them into three specific categories. These have been defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as manual distractions, visual distractions and cognitive distractions. Let’s take a look at how they work together.

Manual distractions

A manual distraction is a physical issue that prevents the driver from holding the steering wheel with both hands. Using a cellphone is certainly one common example. A driver who is holding the phone in their hand while they read or type a text message is manually distracted, even if they’re looking at the road.

Visual distractions

Speaking of looking at the road, any time that a driver looks elsewhere, they are suffering from a visual distraction. This could mean looking down at their phone screen, reading a billboard, gawking at another car accident or even just turning their head to talk to a passenger.

Mental distractions

Finally, mental or cognitive distractions are issues that impact the driver’s attention, even when they are technically still looking at the road and holding the steering wheel. Music is a very common cognitive distraction. But other examples include talking on the phone or just getting lost in thought.

Seeking compensation

Have you been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver? If so, you may be able to seek financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and related costs.


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