Home AUTO 3 Distraction Types That Can Lead to an Accident

3 Distraction Types That Can Lead to an Accident

3 Distraction Types

The concept and awareness of distracted driving dangers are newer. The emergence of smartphones has really brought the idea of distracted driving to the forefront of driver safety. However, it’s important to note that smartphone use is not the only distraction that causes accidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) divides distracted driving into three types:


Visual distractions are any distraction that leads you to take your eyes off the road. A few visual distractions while driving may include programming your GPS, changing the radio station, or looking in the mirror. Of course, interacting with a smartphone is one of the most common visual distractions.

The easiest way to avoid visual distractions is to put your smartphone in a place where you won’t be tempted to use it. Many vehicles today also have technology integrations that allow you to send text messages or make phone calls without using your physical phone.


Manual distractions are any distraction that leads to you taking your hands off the wheel. A few manual distractions while driving may include eating or drinking, reaching into the back seat, or applying makeup. Using a smartphone may also be a manual distraction. While reading text messages or emails might fall under visual distraction, sending texts or emails is a type of manual distraction.

The best way to avoid manual distractions is to pull over before engaging in any tasks such as eating or drinking. Drivers who spend a lot of time on the road may be more willing to engage in manual distractions. Pulling over for a small task may seem like a waste of time, but doing so is important for safety.


A cognitive distraction is one that leads you to take your mind off driving. A few examples of cognitive distractions might include chatting with other passengers, engaging in road rage with another driver, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Some might also consider stress or fatigue to be a type of cognitive distraction.

Cognitive distractions may be harder to avoid. While you can limit passenger communication while driving or try to avoid road rage, forcing yourself to focus on the road can sometimes be difficult. Many drivers don’t realize the dangers of driving when they’re focused on something else. Whether it’s a busy workday ahead or weekend plans, it’s best to push all of these thoughts aside until you get home.

Important Statistics About Distracted Driving

Young adults and teen drivers are most likely to drive while distracted. In fact, an estimated 39% of high school students admitted to texting or emailing while driving at least once in the last 30 days. Distracted driving doesn’t just cause accidents, it also accounts for a large percentage of accident fatalities. Drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians involved in a distracted driving accident are much more likely to experience significant injuries.

The most common time for distracted driving accidents is between 6 p.m. – 11 p.m. The least common time for distracted driving accidents is between 6 a.m. – 9 a.m. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claims that New Mexico has the most fatal distracted driving accidents, and Mississippi has the least. Illinois ranks number eight, accounting for as much as 15.73% of distracted driving accidents.

Because teens and young adults are the most likely to engage in distracted driving, driving lessons should include topics related to the dangers. Teens aren’t often aware of the risks of distracted driving. Parents can help keep their teenagers safe by demonstrating focused driving and encouraging the same.

Distracted Driving Is Illegal in Most States

Distracted driving isn’t just dangerous, it’s also illegal in most states. In fact, 24 states have banned all handheld devices while driving, including Illinois. This means if a person causes a car accident while distracted, they could be subject to legal charges and a personal injury lawsuit.

Distracted driving is considered negligence in many states. This means a driver who causes an accident while using their smartphone could be personally liable for a victim’s injuries. It may not always be easy to prove that a driver was distracted, but a personal injury lawyer may subpoena phone records if there is suspicion.

While driving while texting usually gets the most attention, it’s not the only type of distracted driving. Understanding the other potential distractions can help you stay safe. The safest driving is when you can direct 100% of your attention and focus on the road ahead. While you cannot control other drivers, staying free of distractions allows you to respond quicker to dangerous driving situations.

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