When most people first learn to drive, they tend to be extremely cautious, scanning the road continuously and never letting go of the wheel. More experienced drivers are usually less nervous, having developed a better understanding of road conditions and driving technique. Whether you just got your license or have spent years on the road, distraction continues to present a large risk. There are three main categories of distraction. Being aware of them can help you develop strategies that reduce the likelihood of a distraction leading to an accident.
1. Manual distraction
One common type of distraction is known as manual driving distraction. This is when you take one or both hands off the wheel to do something else. Common things drivers do at the wheel include eating/drinking, picking up objects that fall on the floor, fixing their appearance and smoking. You can reduce this by planning in advance. For example, make sure to leave yourself enough time to eat before setting out can eliminate the need to have your meal while driving.
2. Visual distraction
Another category is that of visual distractions. When visually distracted, your eyes are not on the road because you are looking at something else. One of the most common causes of visual distraction is looking at a GPS or navigation app. Minimize the need to do this by double-checking your travel route before leaving the house and by setting your GPS to give you voice directions, including advance warnings about upcoming exits.
3. Cognitive distraction
Cognitive distractions can occur even when your hands are firmly on the wheel and your eyes are fixed on the road. If your mind is far away, you may not be able to process and react to potential hazards in time to avoid them. Sometimes, cognitive distraction is a result of impairment caused by alcohol, drugs or prescription medication. It can also result from getting too absorbed in talking to another passenger. The smart plan is to avoid potentially upsetting or engrossing topics. When traveling with children, try to cut down on bickering and complaints by supplying each child with snacks and entertainment before hitting the road.
Some common activities fall into more than one category of distraction. Texting while driving is a prime example of a distraction that occupies your hands, eyes and mind at the same time. Putting your phone out of reach for the duration of the drive can help you resist the temptation to check or answer texts.
Distraction while driving is a substantial cause of serious car accidents. If you have been injured in an accident, consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you figure out the best course of action.