The phrase distracted driving probably makes you think of a teenager with a mobile phone in their hands, reading a text message or live streaming to social media. While it’s true that mobile phones have made distracted driving a better-known issue, drivers have given in to distraction behind the wheel since personal vehicles have been widely available. 

Understanding the three primary forms of distraction can help you avoid them and stay safer on the road. Knowing more about distraction can also help you identify and avoid distracted drivers who could put you at risk for a crash and the injuries or property damage a wreck could cause.

Distraction comes in three primary forms

Distracted driving involves not allocating your full effort or focus to the task of managing a vehicle. There are three ways in which a driver can distract themselves at the wheel. Manual distraction involves taking your hands off the wheel. Adjusting the radio station, drinking your coffee, holding a breakfast burrito, reaching for something in the passenger seat or using one hand to compose a text message are all examples of manual distraction. 

Visual distraction is another danger while driving. If someone takes their eyes off the road to look around in their vehicle, glance at a passenger or read a message on their phone, they won’t notice if an animal or child darts out into the road or if the car in front of them suddenly comes to a stop in time to respond appropriately. The third (and arguably most common) form of distraction is the cognitive type. 

When you focus your mental energy on something other than driving, such as a daydream, your to-do list or a practice run of an argument with a friend or family member, you aren’t paying full attention to the road, which could increase your reaction time and risk for a crash. Keeping your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and your mind on the job of safely driving can drastically increase your likelihood of arriving safely at your destination.