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Common forms of distracted driving

Distracted driving is much more common than you may believe. When you hear the words “driving distracted,” you may initially think of texting and driving—and if so, you’re not alone. While texting and driving is without a doubt the most dangerous and common form of distracted driving, there are many other things that many of us do every day which is considered driving distracted.

Forms of Distracted Driving

To help others understand the common forms of distracted driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has placed distracting activities into three different categories:


A visual distraction is exactly as it sounds, something that causes you to take your eyes away from the road and onto the new distraction. These distractions are dangerous because it only takes three seconds for an accident to happen. While having your eyes away from the road, traveling at an average of 55 mph, you will have gone the length of a football field in only five seconds. Some commonly seen visual distractions include:

  • Cellphone usage
  • Changing your GPS/radio/ac settings
  • Turning to chat with a passenger
  • Applying make-up


Manual distractions are perhaps the most common form of distracted driving, due to the fact that they don’t always require you to shift your attention away from the road. These are distractions that cause you to take your hands off the wheel. While you may not see the problem with taking a hand off the wheel, if you continue to pay attention, these distractions are just as dangerous as the other forms of distracted driving. This is because whatever distraction is causing you to take your hands off the wheel is also causing you to think about it, which impacts your reaction time. Some common manual distractions are:

  • Cellphone usage
  • Changing the radio/GPS/ac settings
  • Eating
  • Shaving
  • Applying make-up
  • Passing things to passengers


Cognitive distractions are those that are done by nearly everyone at some point during their drive. These distractions are ones that impact your mental state and take your mind away from driving. They are often overlooked and seen by many as “safe” while driving. These include:

  • Cellphone usage
  • Listening to podcasts/audio books
  • Talking on the phone (even with a hands-free device)
  • Emotional stress
  • Family/money problems

Many cognitive distractions cannot just be avoided, such as family problems or emotional stress. However, while behind the wheel, you owe others on the road a duty of care to drive safely. This means you should put aside your problems and focus on driving as safe as possible. If this isn’t possible, you shouldn’t drive until you are able to put your full attention on driving safely.

Give our car accident attorneys at Sachs Law a call today at (833) MVP-WINS for a free initial consultation.

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