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Updated by The Law Office of Thomas E. Pyles, P.A. on Jul 27, 2020
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Understanding How Texting and Driving Kills

The dangers of texting and driving are well-publicized, and yet it remains a significant danger on our nation’s highways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA) 2,841 people died in car accidents in 2018 involving distracted drivers.


What is Distracted Driving?

To be clear, there are many different distractions vying for drivers’ attention while on the road. From eating and drinking to dealing with noisy children in the backseat, distractions are plentiful, but texting while driving gets the most publicity. In order to understand why texting and driving are so dangerous, it is perhaps helpful to understand the different types of distractions and how they affect drivers’ ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.


Manual Distractions

Manual distractions are among the most common types of distractions, and yet are rarely given much thought. A manual distraction is one that requires you to take your hands off of the steering wheel, reducing your ability to control the vehicle and your reaction time in the event that you need to avoid a hazard. The following are some common manual distractions:

  • Eating or drinking while driving
  • Reaching onto the floor or into the backseat
  • Smoking

Removing your hands from the wheel could add a second or two to your reaction time which could result in an accident.


Cognitive Distractions

Cognitive distractions are less obvious than manual distractions but can be just as dangerous. A cognitive distraction is one that takes your focus off of the road and surrounding traffic. When we say that a driver wasn’t “paying attention,” we’re typically referring to a cognitive distraction. Here are some common cognitive distractions that cause drivers to lose focus and lead to an accident:

  • Conversing with passengers
  • Daydreaming
  • Driving while in a state of extreme emotional distress
  • Listening to an audiobook

Some cognitive distractions are more serious than others, but it’s important to remember that every driver has a legal duty to pay full attention to the road while driving.


Visual Distractions

The third type of distraction is visual, which is anything that takes your eyes off of the road. Visual distractions are also quite common but can be dangerous nonetheless. These can include:

  • Reading directions or a map while driving
  • Looking at the scenery
  • Looking for street signs
  • Looking at yourself in the mirror

Why Texting and Driving is So Dangerous

Texting while driving is so dangerous because it typically involves all three types of distractions:

  • It is a manual distraction because you have to manually manipulate your phone.
  • It is a cognitive distraction because you are paying attention to what is on your phone instead of driving.
  • It is a visual distraction because it requires you to take your eyes off the road.

As you can see, the combination of all three types of distraction can easily lead to a car accident. You cannot see approaching hazards, you aren’t thinking about the task at hand, and you have reduced your reaction time by taking your hands off the wheel.


Distracted Driving is Negligent Driving

Failing to remain fully attentive while driving is one of the most common types of negligence that leads to a car accident. If you’ve been injured in a car accident and you believe it was caused by driving while texting, contact a personal injury lawyer to find out whether you may be entitled to compensation.