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The ways you can be distracted while driving


Texas motorists may be well aware of some of the major distracted driving dangers, such as texting from behind the wheel or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, there might be other common behaviors that they assume are safe but which are not. It can be helpful to understand the three broad categories of distracted driving and how various behaviors fit into one or more of them.

Cognitive distractions

You may be cognitively, manually or visually distracted while you are driving. Most types of distractions involve a cognitive element to at least some degree because your mind is not entirely on the road when you are doing them. Cognitive distractions can involve talking to someone else in the vehicle, especially if the conversation is making you angry or upset. Drugs, alcohol and fatigue are all sources of cognitive distractions. Many people may underestimate the dangers of driving while drowsy, which has been cited as a factor in approximately 1,500 traffic deaths annually and over 100,000 motor vehicle accidents.

Manual and visual distractions

You might not think of smoking or drinking a nonalcoholic beverage as a distraction, but because this requires you to move a hand off the wheel, it is a manual distraction. Fiddling with the radio or your navigation system also creates a manual distraction. Visual distractions are anything that takes your eyes off the road, such as looking at your phone, at someone else in the car or for something that you have dropped.

Cellphone hazards

Looking at email or texting while driving encompass all three types of distractions. Studies have shown that even though most people are aware of the dangers of using cellphones while behind the wheel, a significant percentage of them tend to do it anyway.

It is probably not possible to eliminate every type of distraction, but drivers should take steps to try to reduce them as much as possible. Actions such as setting music and navigation ahead of time and pulling over for any serious conversation or to use the phone can reduce the likelihood of distraction-related accidents.