What Are the Three Types of Distracted Driving?

Types of Distracted Driving

distracted driving state laws

Many people are taught the dangers behind drinking and driving, but not quite as much about driving distracted – which is just as dangerous. In 2020, 3,142 people were killed in distracted driving crashes.

The average American spends over one hour behind the wheel per day. The longer the commute, the easier it is to lose focus on the road. Continue reading to learn more about distracted driving facts, dangers, and prevention.


What Is Distracted Driving?

According to the NHTSA, distracted driving is “any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.”

Cell phones, the Ultimate Distraction

As technology continues to evolve, cell phone use has become a major distraction, not just when it comes to driving, but in life as well. Because smartphones are so versatile, they fall under each type of distraction — cognitive, visual, and manual.

Texting is one of the most dangerous acts for drivers to engage in, as it takes all attention off the road. Additionally, between navigating through all of the social media platforms or browsing for music on streaming apps, there are a multitude of ways to lose focus when driving.

For example, taking five seconds to respond to a text message may appear minor. However, that’s five seconds of looking away from the road, and car accidents only need a second to occur.


What Are the 3 Types of Distracted Driving?

ban texting and cellphone use

There are several different ways to draw a driver’s attention away from the road. These distractions are often characterized into three main types. The different types of driver inattention include visual, manual, and cognitive distraction.

1. Visual

This includes anything that takes the driver’s eyes off the road. This causes people to lose awareness of their surroundings. Also, it may cause them to miss warning signs of road hazards. Common examples are: 

  • Passengers in the car
  • New text messages
  • Unique landmarks

2. Manual

This causes motorists to take their hands off the steering wheel. By removing one or both hands from the wheel, there’s less time to react to potential dangers. Examples are:

  • Reaching for items in the back seat
  • Eating or drinking
  • Taking pictures or recording videos

3. Cognitive

This takes your mind away from the road and can include a wide variety of actions. If your mind is elsewhere, you’re not focusing on the road ahead, noticing obstacles, or being aware of your environment. Examples are:

  • Singing along to a song
  • Dozing off
  • Taking a call on speakerphone


Dangers of Distracted Driving

fatal crashes from distracted driving - National highway traffic safety administration

Distracted driving puts you, your passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers at risk. When you take your attention off the road, even for a moment, you lose the ability to react to other vehicles and things on the road.

Distracted Driving Statistics

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) raises distracted driving awareness by studying motor vehicle crashes to find their correlation with driver inattention. To collect this information, they use a Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and a Crash Report Sampling System (CRSS). Here are some of their findings from 2018:

  • 5% of all drivers involved in fatal crashes had some sort of distraction
  • 20% of deaths related to distractions are non-passengers, such as pedestrians or cyclists
  • 69% of distracted drivers were male
  • 400,000 individuals suffered injuries from distraction related crashes
  • 84% of distracted drivers were using cell phones

Distracted driving incidents are considered underreported. Therefore, police must rely on their investigations when deciding the cause of the accident. That means these statistics are only partially accurate, as there could be thousands more of unreported accidents.

Distracted Driving Accidents

Being involved in a reckless driving incident may have several life-changing consequences. An accident causes damage to your vehicle and increases insurance rates. Additionally, a damaged vehicle is often expensive to replace and might affect your livelihood if it’s the primary means of transportation.

Accidents involving large trucks and commercial vehicles are extremely serious. Commercial drivers spend long hours on the road and are more easily prone to distractions. However, only a few seconds of not looking at the road can lead to a deadly accident.

Who’s at Risk?

Everyone is at risk when it comes to distracted driving. This includes fellow motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, passengers, and the liable driver. Younger drivers are the most at-risk age group when it comes to distracted driving due to inexperience.


How to Prevent Distracted Driving

Texting bans for drivers

Preventing distracted driving is a challenge, but we can all do our part to keep the roads safe. Many states, including California, are working to do their part by enacting distracted driving laws.

Individual Level

Educate yourself on the dangers of driving with distractions. When you’re driving, pay attention to any actions that may pose a danger to yourself or others. Find ways to stop multi-tasking in the car, such as hands-free technology, talk-to-text, and preparing for your trip ahead of time.

If you’re a passenger, help the driver in any way you can by navigating, texting for them, or looking out for potential road hazards. If you’re a parent, talk to your children about the dangers of distracted driving.

State Level

California is one of 48 states that have passed distracted driving laws banning texting while driving. The law specifically states that you cannot use a cell phone or other electronic devices while holding it in your hand. You can only use a hands-free device. However, all drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using any type of hand-held or hands-free device.


Do You Need a Distracted Driving Accident Lawyer?

Distracted drivers are one of the biggest dangers on the road. To keep yourself and others safe, do your part to drive distraction-free. Take advantage of your vehicle’s Bluetooth settings, encourage help from your passengers, and make sure you have everything you need for the trip in an available location.

If you’ve found yourself on the other end of a distracted driver crash, contact our experienced car accident lawyer. The Law Offices of Daniel Kim help victims of car crashes recover compensation from reckless drivers. Schedule your free consultation today.