Distracted Driving: Types of Cognitive Distractions

April is distracted driving awareness month.  Distracted driving is an enormous killer on the roads today. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) more than 3,000 people died in accidents related to distracted driving. No driver can be completely safe unless the task of driving has the drivers undivided attention.  Any Activity not related to driving is a potential distraction that can increase the risk of an autmobile accident. There are three main types of distracted driving; manual, visual, and cognitive distractions. This article is going to be about examples of cognitive distractions.

Cognitive Distractions | My Insurance Question

What are Cognitive Distractions?

Cognitive Distractions are when a driver allows their mind to not be focused on the act of driving. Talking to another passenger, being preoccupied with personal matter, thinking about the workday ahead, or even daydreaming about last Summers Vacation are all examples of cognitive distractions. Unfortunately, most drivers are not aware of the risks associated with cognitive distractions.  Drivers that are experiencing cognitive distractions have slower reaction times and are more likely to be involved in accidents than drivers who remove those distractions.

Car Accident, Accident, Dig, Slipped Off, Wreck cuased by a cognitive distraction

Four Examples of Cognitive Distractions

Talking to another Passenger

Talking to another passenger is the most basic example of a cognitive distraction. Depending upon how in-depth the conversation is, it can take both your mental attention and possibly your eyes away from the road while behind the wheel.

Road Rage

Road rage is one of the cognitive distractions that is far too common on the roads today. Road rage has been on the rise for the better part of the last decade. This cognitive distraction is more common among commuters compared to non-commuters. Anger when behind the wheel significantly increases the frequency and severity of crashes.


Many people spend a lot of time behind the wheel commuting to work. Early in the morning, it is common for many people to think about the weekend or the previous night. It is also common for them to mentally prepare for their day at work. The same can be said for the commute home at the end of the day. People commonly use the commute home to replay the previous day, plan for the next work day, and prepare for their time at home with their family. No matter what is coming in to their mind it can be dangerous because it

Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs and alcohol is not only against the law in every state, it is extremely dangerous. no matter how much someone has had to drink, driving under the influence of alcohol impacts your driving ability.



Distracted Driving: 6 Examples of Visual Distractions

April is distracted driving awareness month. As a result, we are trying to bring attention to the many ways people can be distracted while behind the wheel of an automobile. There are three types distractions for drives; manual, visual, and cognitive. Today we are going to give you some examples of visual distractions that can impact a driver when behind the wheel.

A Visual Distraction can come in many forms when behind the wheel of a car.


We are constantly distracted by advertisements in our ever connected world. Even when we are in the car and off of our electronic devices, there are still ways for advertisers to attempt to gain our attention. Creative BillBoard Advertisements can distract a driver enough to cause an accident. This is one of the most common types of visual distractions.

Cell Phone

The most common way for a driver to be distracted inside a vehicle is for them to look at their cell phone. This is without a doubt the most common form of visual distractions when people are behind the wheel.

Car Navigation System

Car navigation systems are becoming much more common in new vehicles. Even vehicles that do not come with a navigation system have the ability to connect to endless options of GPS Units that can be added to the vehicle. While these devices can help drivers when travelling in an unfamiliar area, it is never a good idea for the driver to be the one operating the device.

Checking on the Kids

Parents with a young child in the car with them have many responsibilities on top of driving the vehicle. Children can be very convincing when they are in the middle of a tantrum. No matter what emergency the child is facing in the back seat of the car, it is not more important than safely operating the automobile. For this reason, it is extremely important to avoid this type of visual distraction.

Radio/Temperature Controls

Radio and temperature controls can take your distraction away from the road and become a visual distraction. Even if the amount of time of this distraction is small, it can be the difference between stopping in time and having a collision. It is especially important to familiarize yourself with these dials when operating a rental car or driving any unfamiliar vehicle.

The View

Some people are fortunate enough to live in an area of the country that has immaculate views around them. These views can be both a blessing and a curse when behind the wheel of a car. It is tempting to take in these views because of the immense beauty of the area, but the amount of time your eyes are not on the road can result in a crash.


5 Types of Manual Distractions While Driving

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and in honor of this month My Insurance Question is dedicating a majority of our attention towards helping individuals and small businesses end distracted driving. The first step towards ending distracted driving is knowing exactly what distracted driving is. Far too many people think distracted driving begins and ends with the cellphone. While a majority of distractions to drivers do involve a mobile device, there are far more ways people can be distracted while behind the wheel.  The three main types of distractions include manual, visual, and cognitive distractions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Distracted Driving claimed the lives of 3,166 people in 2017. Because of the risk faced by individuals and small businesses related to distracted driving, here is an explanation of what exactly a manual distraction is and examples of 5 types of manual distractions.

Manual Distracted Driving is just as dangerous as sending a text.

What are Manual Distractions?

According to the website DMV.org a manual distraction is anything that causes you to take one or both hands off of the wheel. Now you will find that most distractions involve more than one type of distraction. For instance, rolling down the window may include all three types of distractions: Cognitive because you are thinking about the window instead of the road, manual because you are taking your hand off the wheel to push a button to roll down the window, and visual if you look away from the road to observe the window.

Using your phone is not the only way to be distracted while driving. Here are five examples of manual distractions.

Here are 5 examples of Manual Distractions while behind the wheel. 

Eating and drinking

Today we live in an on-the-go society. Taking a look at the drive-thru line of your nearest McDonalds is all the evidence you need to know there are a lot of people out on the roads eating and drinking while behind the wheel. Eating and drinking are a manual distraction because you have to physically use your hands to do something other than have be placed on the wheel at ten and two.


According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 15.5 percent of Americans 18 or older still smoke. The amount of Americans who smoke has been on a constant decline for many years. This amount of drivers still means one and a half of every ten drivers smoke. Many of them smoke when behind the wheel. The reason this is a manual distraction is because they physically have to hold the cigarette for an extended period of time. This creates an extended period of time when these drivers face a manual distraction.

Turning knobs in your car

There are more knobs and buttons in our cars now than ever before. Many new cars come with an electronic display for climate control, radio features, and even GPS capability. these are all potential manual distractions because of the fact you have to take your hand off the steering wheel in order to use any of the controls.

Tending to a child

Children are the most valued possession in any parents life. In most instances, taking care of the needs of a child come before anything a parent needs to do for themselves. When you are behind the wheel this should not be the case. No matter how bad of a tantrum your child is throwing, what they are facing is never as important as keeping them from being involved in a car accident.

Searching through your purse or wallet

Most adults carry a purse or wallet with them at all times. They include personal items like id cards, credit and debit cards as well as gum, mints, makeup and anything else we just cannot do without. These are all potential manual distractions because to use any of these items, the driver must take their hand off the wheel in order to get in to the purse or wallet. These items should be kept out of reach of the driver at all times while behind the wheel.

Manual Distractions in the Car include anything that takes your hands off the wheel.

5 Tips to Avoid Manual Distractions While Driving

  • Turn off your cellphone
  • Use a hands free device
  • Pull over to deal with a crying child
  • Do not eat while driving
  • Program your GPS Prior to driving

Turn off your cellphone

Turning off your cell phone is the single most effective way to limit distracted driving.  If you are expecting an important business call or a family member needs to get ahold of you, plan accordingly before getting behind the wheel.

Use a hands free device

If for some reason you absolutely need to be available while behind the wheel, make sure to use a hands-free device and only use the device in the event of an emergency. Even using a remote device to talk on the phone, it is important to limit the amount of time you are on the phone. Studies have shown that hands free devices are also distracting, in some cases they are just as distracting as normal cell phone use while driving.

Pull over to deal with a crying child

When you are driving with children or even with pets, make sure they are strapped into their seats properly. If they need your attention while driving, pull over before handling the situation. It is always best to deal with a tantrum when you are not behind the wheel.

Do not eat while driving

Eating while behind the wheel is the second most common reason a person gets into a car accident as a result of distracted driving.  The best way to address this threat is to simply not eat while driving.

Program your GPS Prior to driving

An additional Manual Distraction is to program a GPS Unit while on the road. Programming your GPS Unit is something that should always be done before you leave the driveway or parking lot.


3 Types of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a public health issue that affects everyone in America. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.  The latest statistics show motor vehicle fatalities are up 6% from 2015. More than 40,000 people were killed on our nation’s roadways each of the previous two years.  Distracted driving is a major contributor.

When thinking or discussing distracted driving, far too many people think distracted driving starts and ends with the cell phone, but there are many other ways a driver can be distracted when behind the wheel. The three main ways someone can be distracted when behind the wheel deal with manual, visual, and cognitive distractions. Here is an in-depth description of each type of distraction with examples of each.

Manually Distracted Driving

Manually Distracted DrivingThe first and foremost type of distraction any driver faces when behind the wheel is anything that causes a driver to take one or both hands off of the steering wheel. This can be from eating or drinking while in the car, adjusting a GPS unit, getting something out of a purse or wallet, or sending a full text message. No matter how small the distraction may seem, it can lead to serious consequences when a distracted driver becomes the victim of a car crash.

Visual Distracted Driving

Visually Distracted DrivingThere are a number of types of visual distractions a driver can face while operating a motor vehicle. Some visual distractions cause the drivers visual field to be blocked. This can occur because of heavy rain and inadequate windshield wipers. It can also occur when a driver is moving and the back windshield is blocked by the goods being moved. A visual distraction can occur when a driver decides not to look in a certain area before making a move behind the wheel. This can be as simple as not looking both ways at a stop sign. It can be not turning your head to observe the lane you are about to turn in to, instead just relying on the mirrors. Additional visual distractions can come when the driver actually looks at something not related to the act of driving. This can be a clever billboard on the side of the highway or a funny video your friend in the passenger seat wants you to view. No matter what type of visual distraction someone faces when behind the wheel, it is extremely important for the driver to do everything possible to keep their attention on the act of driving.

Cognitively Distracted Driving

The final type of distracted driving deals with the drivers cognitive ability to pay attention to the task of driving.  There are many things that can contribute to this type of a distraction. One of the most common is talking on the phone with a hands-free device like a bluetooth. This type of distraction can also come in the form of an in-depth conversation with a significant other or a person getting excited when their new favorite song comes on the radio. The main danger with cognitive distractions is that in our society today we are constantly inundated with distractions. Because of these distractions we get comfortable doing two things at once, but that is a false sense of security when you get behind the wheel of a car. When you are behind the wheel of a car, the stakes are far to high to risk driving while distracted.