Distracted driving is one of the major causes of accidents in Mississippi and throughout the country. Distractions can come in many different forms, including those that many people would not think of, such as eating and drinking.
Types of distractions
Actions that cause distracted driving can be placed into one of the three categories of cognitive, visual and manual, but most distracted behaviors fall under multiple categories. Cognitive distractions involve actions that take your mind off the driving itself while visual distractions are behaviors that take your eyes off the road and manual ones take your hands off the wheel. All can lead to motor vehicle accidents.
Texting and driving under the influence
Among the most dangerous types of distracted driving are driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs or driving while texting. Both can involve all three types of distractions. While driving under the influence, people’s reaction times can be affected, meaning they are slower to react to visual cues and that they do not respond as well manually either. Cognitively, they may have poor judgment and may be less aware of their surroundings. Texting can involve using your hands, looking at a screen and thinking about the content of the texts rather than your driving.
Many people are aware of these dangers, but there are also dangers connected to other more common behaviors. For example, even a hands-free cellphone creates a cognitive distraction. Adjusting a navigation system may seem relatively harmless but it can take your eyes, hands and attention off the road. Even conversation with someone in the car can create a cognitive distraction, and emotional conversations can increase the intensity of that distraction.
A good practice is to pull over to do such things as make a phone call or change the navigation system. It is unlikely that people will drive in a car with passengers in complete silence, and other types of distractions are inevitable as well, but understanding the different types and reducing them as much as possible is critical for road safety.