When people talk about driver distraction, they’re often referring to the use of a smartphone behind the wheel. They’re talking about people who text while they drive or browse social media or even use apps and take pictures. It’s a serious distraction and it does cause accidents in Pennsylvania every year.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention break down distractions into three specific categories. It’s less about a certain action and more about how any action can put you into one of these categories, raising the risks of a car accident.
As a driver, you should always have both hands on the steering wheel at all times. The only exception is if you are doing something else that’s fundamental to driving the car, like shifting. A manual distraction makes this impossible because you are using your hands to perform a different task. In the case of texting and driving, for instance, simply holding the phone with one hand is a manual distraction, even for a driver who is looking at the road.
Speaking of looking at the road, the second category is visual distractions. These cause a driver to look at something else and not the traffic around them. In the case of texting, looking down at the phone screen is the most common visual distraction. But there are many other types, and you could even argue that reading a billboard is a visual distraction for a driver.
These are mental distractions. The mental component of driving is a little harder to quantify, but it’s clear that drivers need to be focused on what they’re doing. When they’re thinking about something else, it can increase the odds of a car accident, even for a driver who is still holding the steering wheel and looking at the road. A cognitive distraction could be thinking about what to write in a text message, for instance, or thinking about an argument that happened at home or at work.
Drivers are going to make all of these types of mistakes and succumb to these distractions this year. If one of them hits you and you are suffering from severe injuries, you need to know how to seek compensation.