Distracted driving is a huge problem in California. Every day, motor vehicle accidents occur because drivers are not paying attention to the road. Understanding how distracted driving can happen is the first step to prevention. There are three main types of distracted driving: visual, manual and cognitive.
This refers to anything that takes your eyes off the road. It could be something inside the car, like a child or pet. Or, it could be something outside the car, like a billboard or another vehicle. Even looking at your GPS can be a visual distraction. If you’re not looking at the road, you’re not able to see potential hazards. You might not see a stop sign or yield sign, for example. Or you might not see a pedestrian about to cross the street and knock them down.
This type of distracted driving occurs when you take your hands off the steering wheel. For example, if you’re fumbling through your purse or briefcase to find your cell phone, you’re not in control of your vehicle.
You might think you can multi-task and still drive safely, but that’s not the case. Your brain can’t focus on two things at the same time. When you’re trying to do two things at once, your brain is actually switching back and forth between tasks. This takes away from your ability to pay attention to the road, potentially leading to motor vehicle accidents.
This is perhaps the most dangerous type of distracted driving because it occurs when your mind is not focused on driving. For example, if you’re thinking about an argument you had with a friend or a problem at work, you’re not paying attention to the road.
You might be driving on “auto-pilot” without really thinking about what you’re doing. This can be extremely dangerous because you might not react in time if something unexpected happens.
To avoid these types of distracted driving, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and to focus on the task at hand: driving. Put away any distractions, such as cell phones, before you start driving. And, if you need to think about something else, pull over to a safe location first.