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Is texting the most dangerous driving distraction?

On Behalf of | Sep 30, 2019 | Car Accidents

Pennsylvania drivers face an unending string of distractions no matter the length of their commute or the type of road traversed. From eating to chatting with passengers to personal grooming, there are countless actions that can potentially pull a driver’s attention from the road. Even for a moment, anything that interferes with driving can quickly become a deadly activity.

The three main categories

While the list of driving distractions continues to grow on a daily basis, they all fall into three categories – either visual, manual or cognitive. Even though many distractions end up fitting into more than one category, the CDC suggests three major classifications.

Visual distractions

Anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road – even for a moment – can be a visual distraction. From reading an onscreen map to reading a newspaper, the driver cannot focus on changing traffic patterns if she/he is not watching. Stopped traffic, changing traffic signals or other drivers on the road can lead to accidents when there are inattentive motorists.

Manual distractions

Not only is a driver’s visual acuity an important factor in preventing accidents, so is his/her ability to control the vehicle. Any activity that takes the hands from the steering wheel is considered a manual distraction. Reaching across the center console to grab some food from a bag of chips or selecting a new playlist by scrolling through an mp3 player can prevent quick reactions.

Cognitive distractions

Essentially daydreaming, anything that pulls brain-power away from the act of driving is considered a cognitive distraction. Perhaps you’ve had the conversation, or have heard it anecdotally, of someone who had arrived at a destination with no real memory of how they got there. This individual was cognitively distracted for an entire car ride.

What makes texting so dangerous?

Essentially, the act of texting while driving is the perfect distraction as it crosses over into all three categories.

  • Visual: A driver will look at the phone to read or compose a text.
  • Manual: A driver will use his or her hands to use the texting feature on the phone.
  • Cognitive: A driver will concern himself or herself about what was read and think about a response.

While there is new voice-to-text technology, drivers can still be distracted by the act of sending or receiving a text message – to the point of being a hazard to themselves and other drivers on the road.


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