Distracted driving poses a significant threat to drivers, passengers and pedestrians. By definition, distracted driving involves engaging in any activity that takes a driver’s full attention away from the road, which then increases the risk of an accident.
Drivers of all ages and driving skill levels can become distracted. Knowing about distracted driving can help drivers reduce incidents and help make roads safer overall.
Types of distracted driving
There are three main categories of distracted driving: cognitive, visual and manual distractions. Cognitive distractions happen when a driver stops focusing on driving, like when engaging in an intense conversation with a passenger. Visual distractions occur when a driver takes his or her eyes off the road, like when glancing at a text message. Manual distractions occur when a driver removes his or her hands from the steering wheel to reach for something or hold something.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2021, distracted driving caused 3,522 fatalities in the U.S. The following activities are common causes of distracted driving injuries and deaths.
- Texting and phone usage: Texting is a common form of distracted driving that requires visual, manual and cognitive attention. Reading and writing texts takes a driver’s hands, eyes and concentration away from driving.
- Talking to passengers: A driver who talks to passengers does not give driving the attention it requires.
- Eating and drinking: Eating or drinking while driving requires a driver to remove his or her hands from the wheel, which creates a manual and visual distraction.
- Adjusting in-car technologies: Tuning the radio, adjusting the GPS or touching a car’s infotainment systems can make it harder for a driver to pay attention to the road.
Many other types of distracted driving activities exist, and they can all make a car accident more likely. These accidents can result in serious and life-threatening injuries for all involved in the collision, so it is important to do what you can to stay safe on the road.