Even though there are countless activities that can pull a driver’s focus from the road, people consider some more dangerous than others. Activities such as reading, having a phone conversation, eating and personal grooming all take effort and attention that the driver should devote to the safe navigation of the vehicle. Few activities carry the same severe consequences, however, as texting while driving.
Unfortunately, texting touches all three distracted driving categories forcing drivers to remove a significant amount of attention and control from their primary activity.
- Cognitive distractions: Activities that occupy a driver’s mind can be distracting. While this can often mean wandering thoughts or daydreams, texting can absorb brain power as drivers occupy themselves with following a conversation – reading meaning into text and considering an appropriate response.
- Visual distractions: While some technology exists to reduce this distraction, most drivers must look at the phone screen to read a text. Further, drivers in this scenario must watch the phone keyboard while typing out a response in the text conversation. With the driver looking at the phone screen, he or she cannot watch traffic patterns and safety signals around them.
- Manual distractions: Following directly from the visual component, these drivers must hold the phone in one or both hands and use their finger to type the text response. Many times, the driver will hold the phone in one hand while typing with the other. With one or both hands off the steering wheel, the driver cannot maneuver the vehicle out of or around trouble spots on the road.
Any activity that forces a driver to look away from the road or split their focus between tasks is a distraction. There are countless distractions from passengers in the vehicle sharing food to in-depth conversations over the phone. Unfortunately, one common method of communication – text messages – represents a strong, dangerous distraction because it demands a driver’s focus in so many ways.
Distracted drivers can cause devastating collisions resulting in serious injuries such as brain damage, paralysis and amputation. Serious collisions can lead to fatality in vehicle occupants.