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The Primary Forms of Distraction That Cause Car Accidents

October 05, 2015

One of the main problems faced by drivers in today's technology focused world is the sheer number of electronic devices that all compete at any one time for your attention. Distractions cause a number of serious and even fatal car accidents each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than nine people are killed and over 1,153 injured in crashes every day due to distracted driving. This equates to a fatality every 2.6 hours and 44 victims injured each hour.

The Three Primary Forms of Distraction

There are three primary forms of distraction that all drivers should be aware of:

  1. Visual: Visual distractions are distractions that cause a driver to take his or her eyes off of the road. Turning to look at other passengers adjusting the radio or navigation device, or looking at something on the side of the road are all examples of visual distractions that can create a dangerous accident.
  2. Manual: Manual distractions cause a driver to take his or her hands off the wheel. Talking on a cell phone, sending a text, drinking or eating and reaching for dropped objects are all factors that create a manual distraction.
  3. Cognitive: These distractions take a driver's attention or mind off the task of driving and the traffic around them. Daydreaming, trying to figure out where you are heading, talking to a passenger or intently listening to a phone call are all examples of activities that pull your mind away from driving.

Those activities that involve all three types of distraction tend to be the most dangerous. Texting while driving is considered to be the most hazardous form of distraction because this activity requires drivers take their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel and attention away from the task of driving to either respond to or read texts. It is estimated that texting while driving pulls the driver's attention and eyes from the road for at least five seconds. This equates to driving the entire length of a football field blind folded if you are traveling at 55 miles per hour.

We now turn to a look at the specific behaviors that most frequently cause distracted driving car accidents:

  1. Talking on a cell phone, both hand-held and hands-free: Many drivers talk on the cell phone while driving. Hand-held phones are an obvious source of distraction, but most drivers do not know that hands-free phone devices have still been known to cause significant distraction, leading to accidents.
  2. Texting: Sending or reading a text message causes significant distraction. This activity draws the driver's eyes, attention and hand from the road for at least five seconds, which is enough time to cause a fatal car accident. Drivers should never text while behind the wheel for their own safety as well as the safety of those around them.
  3. Programming your GPS or radio: Looking down to program your navigational device or your radio draw your attention, eyes, and hands from the road for a significant period of time. Plan ahead and program your location into your navigational device before you leave and set your radio to your desired station in advance.
  4. Eating while driving: This is an often overlooked type of distraction that kills thousands annually. Many people in a hurry will bring or grab food and eat it while driving. This involves both manual and visual distractions, causing a number of accidents each year.
  5. Tending to children or pets: Mothers and pet owners will often turn around to tend to pets or children in the back seat that may be crying or making noise. Turning around while driving can result in serious accidents because the vehicle ahead may come to a stop or you could swerve into the other lane in a short period of time.
  6. Personal grooming: Drivers who are running late to work, school or a social event might attempt to complete their personal grooming in the car. This may include applying makeup, shaving, combing their hair or the like. These activities are extremely distracting and dangerous. Take the time to complete all grooming before getting behind the wheel.
  7. Talking to a passenger: When your focus turns to a passenger in your vehicle, rather than the road ahead, accidents can result. Keep your eyes and mind on the road and use passengers to your advantage by having them deal with all phone calls, navigational issues, radio tuning and the like.

If you have been injured in an accident and believe distraction might have played a role, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Building a distracted driving accident case can be difficult as it is not always clear whether or not the driver was engaged in distracted behavior at the time of the crash. Early investigations can significantly increase the success of your action.

Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law: Put Our Over 37 Years of Experience to Work on Your Case!

Distracted driving is a serious problem across the United States and results in thousands of injuries and deaths annually. If you have been injured in a car accident that may have involved distraction, the Atlanta, Georgia Auto Accident Attorneys at Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, are here to help. Our firm has over 37 years of experience in the field of personal injury law. We accept cases across Georgia and in the Southeast. The sooner you act after your automobile accident, the greater your chances of obtaining a full recovery for your injuries. As such, do not delay in seeking legal assistance. Call Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law, 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.


Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.