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How does driver distraction work?

On Behalf of | Jan 19, 2024 | Car Accidents

Most people know that distracted driving is dangerous and can increase the risk of a crash. Yet, most people are still guilty of it at times.


One possible explanation for people’s reluctance to give up distracting activities is that they are too tempting. For example, modern cell phones, with their colors, beeps and pings, are hardwired to distract you from whatever you are doing.

Another is that people don’t realize how distracting a particular influence can be. They know they’re not meant to get distracted behind the wheel, but they’ve never considered how it happens.

Distraction works in 3 ways

Some things may only distract you in one way, and some could distract you in all three ways:

Manual distraction: Don’t pick your phone up because you are supposed to keep your hands on the wheel. The same could be said for eating a snack, drinking a coffee or anything else that requires you to use your hands.

Visual distraction: Don’t read a text because it takes your eyes away from the road. Don’t stare at the scenery too long, as you might not see the car in front of yours braking.

Cognitive distraction: This is the one that most people underestimate. It’s also the one that can last the longest. Long after you have put something you were holding down or taken your eyes away from whatever you were staring at, you could still be absorbed by it. Your body may have let it go, but your brain may still be processing distraction. You don’t even need to take a hand from the wheel or your eyes from the road to be mentally distracted. Merely daydreaming could cause you to miss something and crash.

Now that you understand the mechanics of distracted driving, you can do more to avoid it. Yet, even then, you could still be injured by another driver who is distracted, so be careful. In that case, you may benefit from seeking legal guidance to learn more about your rights and options.