What Are The Common Types Of Distractions That Motorists Face?

Distracted driving has been a serious traffic hazard for decades. However, the topic has never been as crucial an issue as it became when portable electronic devices became commonplace. People in Oregon and across the country face distraction every time they are on the road, either from their own device or from a person who is using one while driving nearby. It is important to remember, though, that not every form of distracted driving involves a mobile device. Some types of distraction are more old-fashioned, but are no less dangerous.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, about 5,000 people across the United States are killed every year in car crashes related to distracted driving. This number accounts for 16 percent of all fatal accidents. It also does not take into account the many thousands more who are seriously injured in distracted driving accidents.

Three main types of distracted driving

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention divide distracted driving into three separate categories - visual, manual and cognitive. Visual takes a driver's eyes off the road; manual involves the hands, feet or body; and cognitive takes the driver's mind off the task of driving. Common scenarios for each type might include the following:

  • Visual - The driver is distracted by picturesque scenery, a serious accident by the side of the road or is focusing on the face of the passenger he is speaking with.
  • Manual - The driver bends over to pick up a water bottle she has dropped, or is occupied with eating, putting on makeup or reaching behind the seat to be sure a child is buckled in.
  • Cognitive - The driver is daydreaming, mentally rehearsing an upcoming work meeting or having an intense conversation with a passenger.

In the case of mobile devices, all three distraction types are used, which is why cellphones can be so dangerous when used while driving. For example, a person who is texting is not looking at the road, has his or her hands off the wheel and is more focused on the device than on driving.

Prevention

How does one reduce the risk of getting into a distracted driving accident? The simplest solution is to avoid driving behaviors that cause distraction. Drivers must consciously keep their eyes, hands and mind focused on driving. They can put their cellphones in the glove compartment or delegate a passenger to intercept texts and phone calls, if necessary. It may also be a good idea to avoid conversations or arguments that are so intense that a driver is more focused on the passenger than the road. It is often safer to pull over to deal with the distraction than to continue driving distracted "just this once." Parents might also wish to discuss the topic with their children before they begin driving, and establish rules and expectations.

Preventive measures may make a difference, but cannot always prevent someone else from causing an accident. Those who were injured in a crash caused by another may wish to contact an experienced Eugene personal injury attorney.