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What Is the Definition of Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is one of the most serious problems on US roadways, especially since the proliferation of cell phones. When a driver’s attention is taken off the task of driving, the risk of a car accident increases substantially.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 3,000 Americans die in distracted driving crashes each year. This number represents around 8% of all fatalities from motor vehicle accidents in the United States. Around 12-14% of distracted driving-related fatal crashes include cell phone use as a factor.

While mobile device use is one of the most common types of distractions for drivers, there are many distracted driving behaviors that don’t involve cell phones at all.

There are three types of distracted driving, though many distractions fall into more than one category.

A man is driving distracted and looking at his passenger in the back seat

The Three Types of Distractions

The CDC identifies three types of distractions: visual distractions, manual distractions, and cognitive distractions.

Visual distractions

A visual distraction takes a driver’s eyes off the road. Taking your eyes off the road for 5 seconds while driving at 55 miles per hour is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. 

Looking around at objects outside the car, turning to see something in the back seat, and checking the car’s navigation system all count as visual distractions.

Manual distractions

When you remove your hands from the steering wheel for any reason, it is considered a manual distraction. Some drivers believe they can drive effectively without both hands on the wheel, but if a hazard suddenly becomes present, you may find yourself unable to react in time.

Typing out a text message (even while looking at the road), reaching for a dropped object, eating, drinking, and fiddling with the radio are all manual distractions.

Cognitive distractions

Even with your eyes are on the road and your hands on the wheel, you may not be giving your full attention to driving. A cognitive distraction is one that takes your mind off driving.

Phone calls, daydreaming, and talking to other occupants of the car can all act as cognitive distractions.

Some distractions, like scrolling social media, typing addresses into a GPS app, or putting on makeup, fall into two or more of the categories.

It can be difficult to avoid distraction altogether, as some driver distractions are unexpected and hard to plan for. Safe driving, however, should be the top priority whenever you get behind the wheel. 

Handheld Device Use Statistics

Each year, the NHTSA conducts an observational assessment regarding electronic device use among drivers. The results of the study are compiled into a report detailing distracted driver demographics and trends.

The 2021 report found the following information:

Many states have some form of distracted driving laws—in fact, 49 states in the country have a texting ban while driving. Montana is the only state with no texting ban,

How to Handle a Distracted Driving Accident

A woman who has been injured in a distracted driving accident contacts law enforcement to file a police report

If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle crash because of a distracted driver, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Take the following steps after your accident to protect your right to a claim:

The Advocates Are Here for You

The Advocates Injury Attorneys have been helping car accident victims since 1993, and we can help you too. We are dedicated to helping clients get the financial compensation they deserve for their damages.

Our experienced auto accident lawyers will help you gather evidence for your claim, negotiate with insurance companies, and take your case to court if necessary. We will take on the stressful parts of the claims process for you, so you can focus on feeling better.

Contact us today for a free consultation. If you’ve been injured due to another person’s negligence, you do not have to navigate recovery by yourself. You deserve a representative who will advocate for you and make sure your needs are met. You deserve an Advocate.