Types of distracted driving

Drivers may have cognitive, visual or manual distractions when they are behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

California drivers can easily get distracted while on the road from distractions both inside and outside of the vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving leads to 391,000 injuries and 3,450 deaths over the course of a one-year span. Many people know about the dangers of using cell phones when behind the wheel, but they may not realize that distractions come in many other forms as well.


Sometimes a person's mind may not be focused on driving. Strong emotions, such as anger or sadness, can be enough to distract someone from the traffic around the vehicle because the person is too wrapped up in his or her thoughts. Other potential elements that can take a driver's mind off of the task at hand include the following:

  • Loud music
  • Phone calls
  • Conversations

When behind the wheel, a person should try to keep his or her entire mind on driving. Otherwise it can be hard to keep track of the other vehicles and pedestrians around the car, which can lead to traffic incidents.


Visual elements can make the vehicle operator take his or her eyes off of the road. Texting, for example, requires both reading and sending a message, which means the person has to take his or her eyes off of the road for at least five seconds or the length of a football field according to Geico.com. Billboards, navigation systems and radios are other potential visual distractions. Even people riding in the vehicle can create a visual distraction, especially children. Parents may feel the need to check on their children several times throughout a single trip either by looking in the rearview mirror or turning their heads away from the road completely.


When an activity requires the driver to take his or her hands off of the wheel, it is considered a manual distraction. Without the use of both hands, the person may not be able to react quickly enough to the changes in traffic. Taking one or both hands off the steering wheel could lead to a loss of vehicle control. Eating and drinking are common activities that vehicle operators try to do. Even reaching for something from the glove box or back seat can leave the driver unable to pay proper attention to the road, which can lead to a fatal car crash.

Some car accidents in California are caused by distracted drivers who are unable to adapt to the changes on the road. No matter what causes an accident, it can be beneficial for anyone involved to work with an attorney who is familiar with car crash cases.