Most drivers engage in at least 1 type of distracted driving at some point. Although there are many different types of distracted driving, there are 4 common types of distracted driving that are more prevalent than others. Let’s discuss these types of distracted driving and how to avoid them.

What Are the 4 Common Types of Distracted Driving?

The 4 common types of distracted driving are:

  • Visual
  • Manual
  • Auditory
  • Cognitive

What Are Some Examples of the 4 Types of Distracted Driving?

You may be surprised at how many ways drivers engage in distracted driving every day.

Visual Distractions

Visual distractions are activities that cause you to take your eyes off the road, even if it’s only for a second. Visual distractions are dangerous because they take your attention away from the road. When you’re not focused on the road, your ability to assess your surroundings is impaired.

Examples of Visual Distractions

Examples of visual distractions can include the following:

  • Changing the radio
  • Reaching for items in your vehicle
  • Operating GPS
  • Observing billboards
  • Applying makeup
  • Reading text messages
  • Browsing your playlist

Manual Distractions

Manual distractions are activities that force you to take both hands off the steering wheel. These distractions are dangerous because they slow your reaction time. Road conditions can change almost instantaneously, such as an animal running across the street or highway. If your reaction time is slowed down, it will be more difficult to avoid a collision.

Examples of Manual Distractions

Manual distractions are those that require you to take both your hands off the wheel for any reason, which can include the following activities:

  • Reaching for an item, such as sunglasses, or a bottle of water
  • Texting while driving
  • Using GPS on your phone
  • Eating or drinking
  • Grooming
  • Smoking
  • Adjusting the sun visor

Auditory Distractions

Auditory distractions are those that are caused by noises that can affect your ability to hear and take your focus away from driving. These distractions can be dangerous because your cognitive performance can be affected, leading to accidents.

Examples of Auditory Distractions

Auditory distractions while driving can include the following:

  • Listening to loud music
  • Making phone calls
  • Noisy phone notifications
  • Talking to a passenger
  • Talking on your cell phone
  • Yelling at other drivers
  • Listening to GPS or an audiobook
  • Screaming children

Cognitive Distractions

Cognitive distractions are internal or external mental tasks or activities that divert your attention away from driving. These distractions can impair your ability to react appropriately in hazardous road conditions.

Examples of Cognitive Distractions

Examples of cognitive distractions can include the following:

  • Texting or emailing on your phone
  • Talking on the phone
  • Eating or drinking
  • Daydreaming
  • Listening to an audiobook or podcast
  • Having a conversation on a hands-free device
  • Road rage
  • Thinking upsetting thoughts
  • Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol

What Makes Distracted Driving Dangerous?

Engaging in distracted driving makes you a hazard on the road. When you’re driving distracted, your performance is impaired, and your awareness of your surroundings is limited, putting you at high risk of being involved in an accident.

When you’re distracted, you’re less likely to notice objects that are close or far away, so you won’t be able to respond appropriately to certain situations to prevent an accident.

Why Is Distracted Driving Common?

Distracted driving is common because many drivers believe they can multitask while driving. A few seconds may not seem like a long time, but when you’re driving, every second counts. Taking your eyes off the road for a split second can be the difference between life and death.

The truth is, your brain isn’t able to multitask. When you’re trying to do more than one thing at a time, your brain continuously switches your attention between tasks, so you are never giving your undivided attention to one task.

Technology and Distracted Driving

While technology makes a lot of tasks easier, it can also cause problems, such as distracted driving. Cell phones are a common factor in auto accidents. Using your cell phone while driving increases cognitive distraction, and since your brain can’t truly multitask, your attention and focus are on your phone instead of the road.

Using your cell phone in any way, such as texting or talking on the phone, or using the GPS are all types of distracted driving. Even if you are using a hands-free device, your attention is still not solely on the road. With hands-free devices, your hands are free, which means both hands can remain on the steering wheel. However, you are still driving while distracted. You may not be holding the phone while you’re having a conversation, but you’re still engaging in conversation, which is an auditory distraction.

What Impact Do Distracted Drivers Have on Road Safety?

Distracted driving impacts thousands of Americans every year. Teenage and young adult drivers are more prone to distracted driving than any other age group. In 2019, fatal crashes that involved distracted driving in the U.S. were the highest among drivers who were 15-20 years of age, which was higher than drivers who were at least 21 years of age.

More than 6 people are killed every day in the U.S. because of distracted driving. In 2019, over 3,000 individuals were killed, and more than 400,000 individuals were injured due to distracted driving.

Approximately 1 in 5 individuals who perished in auto crashes that involved a distracted driver were not in vehicles. These individuals were pedestrians, cyclists, or outside of a vehicle in some way.

What Is Being Done About Distracted Driving?

State and federal authorities are working together to prevent distracted driving by creating laws that pertain to distracted driving. Although the effectiveness of texting and cell phone laws require more research, these laws can help reduce cell phone use while driving.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has multiple campaigns that increase awareness of distracted driving and the dangers it poses, such as the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay, which started in April 2014.

How Does Distracted Driving Impact Auto Insurance Rates?

More and more vehicles are on the road, increasing the number of accidents caused by distracted driving. Auto insurance providers are noticing an increase in the number of accidents due to the rise in auto insurance claims because of distracted driving. As a result, auto insurance premiums are skyrocketing for drivers who are likely to cause an accident while distracted.

Being involved in an auto accident caused by distracted driving can increase your auto insurance premium by as much as 49%, which is equivalent to an additional $864 increase per year for full auto coverage. The increase in your auto coverage can last as long as 3 years, costing you more than $2,500. Receiving a traffic citation can add more penalties, costing you more money.

Auto insurance providers take auto accidents caused by distracted driving seriously, and they are perceived as risky behavior. Engaging in risky behavior as a driver makes auto insurance companies view you as a liability.

Your car insurance premium surcharges are determined by multiple factors, such as previous violations. An assessment of your overall risk of being involved in an accident will be completed to provide you with your total cost to be insured, which will likely be a lot more than a driver who doesn’t engage in distracted driving.

How to Avoid Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is avoidable. To ensure you don’t engage in distracted driving, we’re providing a list of actions you can take.

Focus on Driving

When you’re behind the wheel, focus on the road. When you’re focused, you’re not distracted by anything, and you can avoid hazards on the road, which could prevent an accident. You should never try to multitask while you’re driving. Keep both hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.

Pull Over In a Safe Location

If you need to complete a task, such as text, make a phone call, or pick up an item that was dropped, pull over to a safe location on the road. If you’re on the highway, look for a shoulder of the road that does not interfere with the flow of traffic. You can also wait until you find a rest stop.

Silence Notifications On Your Phone

When you’re driving, silence your phone’s notifications so you aren’t distracted or tempted to become distracted by checking your phone and replying to the message. Even if your vehicle supports the hands-free feature, you will still be distracted while driving, you just won’t be holding your phone.

Ask Passengers for Assistance

If you’re traveling with someone, ask them for help doing tasks, such as updating you on directions to your destination, changing the radio station, or responding to a text.

Don’t Respond to Distractions

If you’re traveling with children or pets, don’t respond to certain distractions. If your little one is crying, and requires your attention, pull over to a safe spot on the side of the road that does not obstruct the flow of traffic. Make sure everyone is strapped in their seatbelts and ready to go before pulling off so you don’t have to worry about pulling over later to adjust them.

Engage In Intense Conversations Later

If you’re discussing something intense, save it for when you’re not driving. You should avoid engaging in heated debates or conversations while you’re driving because it distracts you from focusing on the road and can cause an accident.

Adjust Your Seating Before Driving

Before you hit the road, make sure your feet can comfortably reach the pedals and ensure you’re not overextending your arms to reach the steering wheel. You should also adjust the mirrors, headrest, and seatbelt before pulling off and traveling to your destination.

Make Sure You’re Ready to Go

Before you embark on any adventures, make sure you’re ready to take on the day. Make sure you’re groomed and apply makeup before leaving your destination. These are not tasks that should be done while driving. If you plan on doing your hair or makeup in the car, wait until you arrive at your destination and the car is parked.

Plan Your Route

If driving frustrates you, plan your route before you start driving. Planning your route allows you to choose the route you’ll take to get from one destination to the next with little to no hassle, especially if your goal is to avoid traffic.

Create Your Playlist Before Leaving

If listening to music relaxes you while driving, create your best playlist before driving so you don’t have to worry about changing songs or finding a song to listen to. You should also consider the type of music you’re listening to. Music that makes you aggressive can make you engage in aggressive driving behavior, which could result in a traffic citation.

Eat Before You Leave

If you know you’ll be hungry while traveling, eat before you leave. If you plan on getting takeout, don’t eat until you’ve made it home or eat in the parking lot so you can avoid eating and driving. A lot of foods are messy and can cause issues while you’re driving. Eating and driving is also a type of distracted driving, so avoid eating in the car!

Don’t Smoke and Drive

Whether you’ve been smoking for years or not, smoking while driving can be a distraction, especially if you drop the cigarette while driving. Smoking while driving can also impair your concentration.

Let Others Know You’ll Be On the Road

Whether you’re traveling down the road or plan on taking a road trip, let your friends and relatives know when you’ll be traveling. When you get a chance, such as stopping at a gas station, rest stop, or reaching your destination, respond to texts and phone calls and give your friends and relatives peace of mind.

Don’t Bother the Driver If You’re a Passenger

If you’re a passenger, don’t bother the driver! The driver’s attention should be on the road and observing their surroundings, which includes other drivers. If you know someone is on their way home, don’t call or text unless it’s an emergency.

Create a Driving Plan

Having a driving plan can help give you peace of mind when your loved ones are on the road and it is especially great for teenage drivers. Make sure your driving plan includes essential information about what to do in the event of an accident and how to avoid hazards on the road.

Be a Safe Passenger

To be a safe passenger, you act as the driver’s extra set of eyes and ears. You can do things that help the driver stay focused on driving and keep their eyes on the road, such as replying to text messages, answering phone calls, changing the radio station, and looking up directions.

Doing anything that takes your focus off the road and your surroundings while driving is a distraction. Distracted drivers put themselves and everyone else on the road at risk of being involved in an accident. Don’t be a distracted driver! Stay safe and happy driving!