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Thomas Curcio
Thomas Curcio
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Types of Driving Distractions

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Last time we discussed examples of distracted driving, but this post we will delve deeper into the types of distracted driving. Distracted driving falls under 3 categories: Visual, Manual, and Mental.

Visual is anything that takes your eyes off the road, whether that be your phone, the Chipotle on the corner, your dog running side to side, etc. The problem with visual distractions is that they take away your first defense on the road. You’re actively driving blind, missing the car swerving in front of you, the child running out into the street, or the quick light change due to an ambulance in the other direction. With focus these types of situations are dangerous, without? The worst case scenario is more likely to happen.

Manual is anything that takes your hand or hands off the wheel, whether that be your phone, the McDonald’s fries you’re stealing from your children, or the radio dial you’re fiddling with. Manual distractions don’t necessarily incapacitate your ability to steer, as we have all driven one handed before, but all types of distractions work together, so with only one hand on the wheel and the other rummaging in your bag, you may notice the person swerving in front of you, but you won’t have time to react and get your hand out of your purse or the food out of your hand to grip the wheel and stop an accident.

Mental is anything that takes your mind off the road, whether that be your phone, that presentation you have coming up, or that sunrise on the horizon. Mental distractions can be the worst distractions as you are more complacent. Your hands are on the wheel, your eyes on the road, but you’re not registering what is happening around you. Oftentimes these are the most dangerous distractions as they don’t feel like distractions until you’ve made it to your destination and can’t remember driving there. If you’re busy thinking of how to respond to your girlfriend about plans for Valentine’s Day (or lack thereof) you won’t be quick in your reaction to swerving cars, children, and changes in road conditions.

Now, anything can be a distraction but phones do seem to get the worst rep when it comes to distracted driving, and that is because phones not only cause all three distraction types, but they cause them simultaneously. To wield a phone you need at least one hand, your eyes, and your brain. On average, people look at their phones a minimum of 5 seconds, and 5 seconds at 55 mph (think 395), is the length of a football field that your eyes have been off the road. The Vikings made an insane touchdown in that amount of time, what could you do?

Next time, applications that help end distracted driving.

Thanks to Toyota TeenDrive365 for the graphics!