Understanding cognitive distraction

In Georgia, there have been many campaigns designed to prevent distracted driving, but you may be unaware that there are different types of distracted driving. Manual and visual distractions are those that require you to take your hands off the wheel or eyes off the road, such as looking at your GPS or adjusting the volume on the radio. However, the most common, and the most dangerous, are cognitive distractions.

What are cognitive distractions?

Cognitive distractions don’t always cause you to take your hands off the wheel and your eyes from the road. This may be as simple as turning to talk to a passenger in the vehicle or driving when you are overly tired. However, there is research to indicate that cognitive distraction may be as dangerous as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Prevalence of cognitive distractions

Statistics indicate that cognitive distractions are not at all uncommon. One of the biggest reasons for cognitive distraction is your cellphone; phone-related distractions cause over 3,000 car accidents leading to fatality each year. Even hands-free devices can cause distractions as a conversation with someone else may take your focus from the road. Your children in the back seat may also cause a cognitive distraction. Taking your eyes from the road for just four seconds at 55 miles per hour is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.

Preventing cognitive distractions

If you are riding with your children in the back seat, provide them with activities that keep them busy so that they don’t distract your attention from the road. Place your cellphone in your purse, in the back seat or in the glovebox so that you are not tempted to look at it if it rings or a text comes in. Don’t eat while you are driving or hand food to your children in the back seat.

Never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Be sure to get enough sleep before you get behind the wheel of a car. It’s also helpful to set your radio on a specific station at a good level before you begin driving and try not to adjust it unless you are stopped. Even a few seconds with your eyes off the can lead to car accidents that may result in injury or even death.

Distracted driving can be as dangerous as driving under the influence. If you have been involved in an accident with someone who was distracted, you might want to speak to an attorney in order to protect your rights under the law.