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Understanding distracted driving and how to avoid it

When accidents happen in Washington, there are a number of factors that can be to blame. But one of the most common causes is distracted driving. There are three main types of distractions: manual, visual and cognitive.

Manual distractions

These are anything that takes your hands off the wheel. These could be things like fiddling with the radio, eating or drinking, or even talking on the phone. Sometimes, even just holding something in your hand can be a distraction, especially if you’re not able to grip the wheel as tightly; if you have to take your eyes off the road to look at it, that’s an extra distraction.

Visual distractions

You should be looking at the road ahead of you while driving. But visual distractions can take your eyes off the road. Some common visual distractions are things, like looking at a GPS device, reading a map, or even just rubbernecking to look at something happening on the side of the road. Additionally, anything that makes it hard to see the road, like glare from the sun or even rain, can be a visual distraction.

Cognitive distractions

Cognitive distractions are anything that takes your mind off of driving. This could be daydreaming, thinking about something that’s happened in the past or is going to happen in the future, or even just being tired. When your mind is focused on something other than driving, you’re more likely to make mistakes and injure someone or cause another form of accident.

How do these distractions lead to accidents?

All three types of distractions can lead to accidents because they take your focus off the road. When you’re not paying attention to your surroundings, you’re more likely to miss something, like a stop sign or a pedestrian crossing the street. And if you’re not able to react in time, a motor vehicle accident can happen.

The best thing you can do is to focus on the task at hand: driving. Put away anything that could take your attention off the road, and make sure you’re well rested before getting behind the wheel. And, if you need to do something that requires your attention, pull over to a safe location first. By being aware of the types of distractions and how they can lead to accidents, you can help keep yourself and others safe on the road.

Further Reading

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