What is a cognitive driving distraction?

Manual and visual driving distractions, two of the three main categories, tend to be fairly obvious even to those who engage in them. Say you bend over to pick up a cellphone that fell onto the floor after it slipped out of your pocket. You’re not looking at the road, but at the phone, and you’re also not holding onto the wheel as you reach to pick up the phone. These are critical issues when trying to drive safely.

The third category, though, is cognitive distractions. These are often not quite as obvious. Many people get distracted without realizing it.

For instance, say you use a hands-free phone system to make a call. That can help to get rid of the manual and visual distractions noted above. You can watch the road and hold the wheel while talking.

However, you have to devote a certain amount of attention to the call. You need to listen to what the other person is saying and decipher what it means. There are many small social clues in even the most casual conversation. We feel like we decipher these things automatically, but that doesn’t mean it’s without work. Your mind has to spend time and energy working through the conversation, and you may even “zone out” as you listen. When that happens, you’re not mentally engaged with driving in the same way you would be if you weren’t on the phone.

Have you been hit by a distracted driver? If you suffered serious injuries in the crash, you need to know what legal steps you can take to seek compensation for medical bills and other related costs.

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