What is a distracted driver?

Distracted drivers are a risk to themselves and others on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving leads to around 3,000 deaths a year in this country. It also causes many more non-fatal crashes. The problem occurs among all age groups.

How distractions affect drivers

Distractions affect drivers in three ways:

  • Not looking at the road: Visual distraction can happen for many reasons. For example, if you are looking at your phone to read a message or staring at your road map to work out which route to take, your eyes aren’t on the road.
  • Not keeping your hands on the wheel: Manual distraction involves you removing one or both hands from the wheel. That could be to type a text message or reach for some food.
  • Not thinking about driving: Cognitive distraction can also happen for many reasons. One example is thinking about what the person you are talking to via your hands-free phone is saying. Another is wondering what is for dinner or which route would be quicker.

Separating distraction into three types is helpful to understand how distraction works. Yet, it is crucial to remember that all three forms often happen at the same time. For example, you have one hand off the wheel to put an address into your GPS (manual distraction). To do so, you need to look at your GPS (visual distraction) and think about what you are doing and what you need to enter (cognitive distraction).

If you suffer injuries in a motor vehicle crash caused by another driver, it is essential to understand the legal options available to claim compensation. It can help to establish that the other driver caused the crash because they were distracted.

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