Breaking Down the Three Main Types of Distraction While Driving

When one or more vehicles become involved in an accident, the term ‘human factors’ is used as an umbrella term to denote all the things that drivers and passengers on the road have done that may have contributed to the collision. One of the most common human factors in automobile crashes is distraction, and the number of people that are involved in these accidents is far too high.

With new and innovative technology coming out every month, remedying this epidemic may not be an easy task. The use of cell phones, navigation systems, Mp3 players – even grooming or eating – behind the wheel increases your chances of being involved in a crash exponentially, and doing many of these things while driving is against the law in a majority of the fifty states. Our lawyers want to present you with the three most common types of distraction, so you can understand and be more aware of what activities to avoid, so you can navigate Chicago roads and highways as safely as possible.

Manual Distraction: This happens any time a driver takes his or her hands off of the wheel while the vehicle is in motion. A manual distraction can happen as a result of texting, smartphone use, eating or drinking, grooming, using navigation systems, adjusting your music, or a multitude of other scenarios. This type of distraction significantly reduces a driver’s control over their vehicle, and increases the time needed to react to hazardous situations on the road. This could mean causing an accident, or acting as an impetus for other drivers to lose control in an attempt to avoid you.

Visual Distraction: A visual distraction occurs any time the driver takes their eyes off of the road. Something as simple as sending a text message can take an individual’s eyes off of the road for as much as 4.6 seconds, effectively rendering them blind during that time (a car can travel the length of a football field in that time). This can also happen when using maps and navigation systems, or reading a billboard on the side of a highway. While manual distraction reduces physical ability to react and control one’s vehicle, visual distractions might mean that a person doesn’t see a hazard at all, and this can result in accidents that are much more severe.

Cognitive Distraction: This type of distraction occurs when a driver takes their mind off of driving. Cognitive distractions often overlap with visual and manual distractions, and some tasks, such as texting, require visual, manual, and cognitive attention on the part of the driver. (

When you get behind the wheel of a car always remember that it is a huge responsibility, you are operating a machine with an incredible amount of mass, which has the ability to move very quickly and cause serious damage to others. Staying physically, visually and mentally focused on the road while driving is not a choice, it is a responsibility, and the safety of everyone around you hangs in the balance.

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