To help keep you safe on the road, we briefly explain the three different types of distracted driving and their various causes. While there’s a lot people get wrong about distracted driving, knowing the various types can make a big difference in the way you approach your time behind the wheel. Some of the examples that we discuss won’t necessarily result in a ticket (like texting and driving), but it’s still important to practice good driving etiquette.

3 Different Types of Distracted Driving

Cognitive Distractions

Otherwise known as a mental distraction, this occurs when a driver’s mind isn’t focused on the road. Talking to others in the car, listening to podcasts, and being preoccupied with work, personal, or family-related issues are all examples of cognitive distractions.

Manual Distractions

Manual distractions occur when a driver takes one or both of their hands off the wheel for any reason. Some examples of manual distractions include eating in the car, changing the radio station, adjusting your mirrors, and—yes—even shifting your vehicle.

Visual Distractions

Visual distracted driving occurs when a driver looks at something other than the road ahead of them. Adjusting the GPS, checking someone’s seatbelt, and reading while driving are just three examples of common visual distractions.

Common Distracted Driving Causes

  1. Cellphone use – Fiddling with cellphones—even if it’s just looking down for a second—can be detrimental.
  2. Other people – Everyone would rather have fun in the car than sit in silence, but this can lead to many distractions for the driver.
  3. Reaching for anything – Reaching for items away from the steering wheel is incredibly dangerous.
  4. Eating or drinking – Doing either one of these behind the wheel will cause a driver to be both manually and visually distracted.
  5. Adjusting climate controls and audio – Even if it’s just for a moment, fiddling with these different controls can result in a crash.
  6. Applying makeup – Touching up makeup and fixing hair means taking one’s hands off the wheel, which can mean crashes and fatalities.


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