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Three types of distracted driving, three times as much risk

You may equate distracted driving with texting, but a driver faces distractions well beyond cell phone use.

Driver distractions fall into three categories: manual, visual and cognitive, and each carries significant risks.

Manual distraction

A manual distraction requires you to take your hands off the steering wheel. You might punch the buttons on your cell phone, pick up a drink or a sandwich or grab your cell phone to answer a call.

Visual distraction

A visual distraction involves looking for something you dropped on the floor of the car, adjusting the radio or reading a billboard you are passing. A visual distraction will cause you to take your eyes off the road for at least a precious few seconds.

Cognitive distraction

When your mind is not focused on driving, you are experiencing cognitive distraction. You might feel sleepy. Your mind might wander because the drive is boring. You might engage in conversation with your passengers. If your mind is not totally on your driving, an element of danger exists.


According to 2015 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, 391,000 people sustained injuries and 3,477 people died as the result of distracted driving accidents across the U.S. The NHTSA estimates that 660,000 people use their cell phones daily while driving. This means that some of the motorists you encounter could put you at risk of an accident with the possibility of serious injury as you drive to the office or grocery store. Keep in mind that texting is highly dangerous because it requires all three types of distraction: manual, visual and cognitive. Remaining alert at all times is the best way to avoid a collision with a driver whose attention has wandered.