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Cognitive, Visual, and Manual Distractions: a Lethal Driving Trifecta

Cognitive, Visual, and Manual Distractions: a Lethal Driving Trifecta

Have you ever arrived at work or another everyday destination and suddenly realized that you aren’t really sure how you even got there? Your mind was elsewhere, and a sort of mental “muscle memory” somehow took you where you needed to go without even thinking much about it. That’s a good example of one of the three main types of dangerous distracted driving: cognitive distraction. Simply put, your mind was elsewhere while your body was sitting behind the wheel.

Or have you ever – even for just a second – looked away from the road and cheated a glance down at your cell phone to read a text message that just arrived? If so, you’ve experienced what experts call visual distraction – another common way your attention is lured away from safe driving, putting you, your passengers, and other innocent people at significant risk.

Finally, have you ever attempted to respond to a text message, dialed a friend’s phone number, or handed a child in the back seat a snack while you’re driving? These actions, which require you to take your hands off the steering wheel, are classified as manual distractions – and also include such activities as shuffling the songs on your playlist, eating, and even applying makeup while you’re behind the wheel.


Multiple Distractions Multiply Risks

Many of these seemingly harmless actions involve two or even all three types of distraction. For instance, reading and responding to text messages means you’re cognitively, visually, and manually engaged with physical and mental tasks other than safely driving your car. Together, they make texting while driving six times more deadly than driving drunk! Just to be clear … you’re sixtimes more likely to get into a life-altering accident that will forever impact you, the people you care about, and the innocent victims affected by your carelessness, if you text while driving.

The State of Michigan recognizes this fact and has taken legal steps to help prevent distracted driving by enacting a hands-free cell phone law that took effect last June. We suspect this commonsense law has already saved countless lives and prevented innumerable injuries across the Great Lakes State. Yet, as we discussed in another article here, we believe that the penalties for breaking the state’s hands-free law remain woefully inadequate, especially when they’re compared with what happens to drivers convicted of DUI infractions. As we noted last June, first-time offenders who break the hands-free law are fined just $100 or sentenced to 16 hours of community service. A second offense results in a mere $250 fine or 24 hours of community service. Drivers convicted of subsequent violations can end up being ordered to take a driving improvement course as well as paying the mandatory fines and doing community service time. But those penalties pale in comparison to what happens to drunk or drugged drivers convicted of operating their vehicles under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances. In serious cases involving fatal accidents for which they’re found responsible, people convicted of DUI can face up to 20 years in prison, fines totaling $10,000, or both.

As we’ve noted previously, we consider the state’s penalties for distracted driving to be far less effective than a slap on the wrist. If you agree, you might wish to contact your state legislators to make your feelings known. You can find details on reaching out to your local member of the House of Representatives here, and your State Senator can be found here.


How to Stop Distracted Drivers from Harming You or Your Family

Since the most obvious cause of distracted driving accidents seems to be texting while driving, Michigan has made it a primary offense. This means law enforcement officers can pull over drivers simply because they’ve seen them using their phones behind the wheel. They don’t have to find another excuse to make a traffic stop when someone is obviously texting while driving.

Similarly, if you observe someone who’s holding a phone, or driving erratically for any other reason, you can dial 911 statewide to report what you’ve seen to a local police dispatcher. But if you do, be sure to use your phone’s hands-free mode to initiate the call! Many smartphones, including Apple iPhones and Android models, have built-in options to make emergency calls quickly. Apple’s smart assistant Siri will even dial authorities automatically from your iPhone or Apple watch when you say “Siri, call 911.” Google and other Android-based phones do the same thing when you say “Hey, Google, dial 911.”

Furthermore, to fully combat distracted driving effectively, it’s crucial to holistically address its three main components. Firstly, tackling cognitive distractions involves promoting mindfulness and concentration while driving. Educating drivers about the dangers of multitasking and encouraging them to focus solely on the road can significantly reduce cognitive distractions. Secondly, addressing visual distractions entails minimizing anything that takes drivers’ eyes off the road, such as electronic devices or adjusting in-car systems. Implementing hands-free technology and emphasizing the importance of maintaining visual focus can help mitigate these distractions. Lastly, combating manual distractions involves reducing activities that require drivers to take their hands off the wheel, like texting or eating. Again, promoting the use of hands-free devices and advocating for designated stopping points for tasks like eating or adjusting music controls can effectively eliminate manual distractions, contributing to safer roads for all.


How Else Can You Manage Distracted Motorists Who Cause Unsafe Driving Conditions?

If you or someone you love have been injured by the irresponsible actions of a distracted driver, let us send a powerful message by filing a personal injury lawsuit that will make them think twice in the future, and help you receive financial compensation to make up for the pain and suffering you’ve experienced due to their carelessness. To get us on the case and working on your behalf, call us at 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946). Or you can simply fill out and submit our online contact form right here.

Cognitive, Visual, and Manual Distractions: a Lethal Driving Trifecta

Content checked by Mike Morse, personal injury attorney with Mike Morse Injury Law Firm. Mike Morse is the founder of Mike Morse Law Firm, the largest personal injury law firm in Michigan. Since being founded in 1995, Mike Morse Law Firm has grown to 150 employees, served 25,000 clients, and collected more than $1 billion for victims of auto, truck and motorcycle accidents. The main office is in Southfield, MI but you can also find us in Detroit, Sterling Heights and many other locations.