When you get in a car to drive somewhere, you likely know that texting and driving is an unsafe activity. Yet there are many other types of distracted driving, and these activities injure and kill many drivers and passengers every year.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that in 2020, distracted driving took the lives of 3,142 people. Many of these accidents occurred because a driver was manually, cognitively or visually distracted.
Taking one or both of your hands off of the steering wheel makes you manually distracted, increasing your likelihood of getting into an injurious car accident. If, for example, you reach for something on your passenger seat or use one hand to change the radio station, you become manually distracted.
If your full focus drifts away from driving while your vehicle is in motion, you become cognitively distracted behind the wheel. Focusing on a conversation with a passenger, thinking intently about your work tasks for the day on your commute or letting your mind wander while driving are all examples of cognitive distraction.
If you take your eyes off the road at any time while driving, you become visually distracted. Examples of visual distraction include looking down at your phone to read a text message or trying to read directions on a GPS device.
Some distracted driving activities can combine visual, manual and cognitive distraction. For example, when you text and drive, you experience all three forms of driver distraction, which can limit your ability to drive safely.