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How can drivers be distracted?

Mention "distracted driving," and most in Hot Springs will likely tell you that it refers to one who is using a cell phone while driving (either by texting or holding the handset to take a call). Yet what few seem to realize is that there is actually a wide range of activities that can cause distracted driving. The trouble is that most view them as acts of second nature that requires so little thought that they are not distracting. In reality, any activity that takes your attention away from the road is distracting. 

A joint research effort between The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Auto Alliance has helped to develop general definitions for distracted driving. Their efforts have identified the following three types of driving distractions: 

  • Manual
  • Visual 
  • Cognitive

Manual distractions are any actions that require the use of hands (which, of course, forces one to release the steering wheel with one or both hands while driving). Visual distractions take one's vision off the road, while cognitive distractions do the same with his or her attention. 

Common actions that cause these distractions include eating, drinking, reading, applying makeup or even carrying on a conversation. Again, most believe themselves capable of performing these tasks while driving, claiming that even if they are distracting, they only turn their attention from driving for just a few moments. However, that is often all that is needed in order for one to leave his or her driving lane or reduce his or her reaction time to the point of making an accident inevitable. 

How can you know if distractions caused your accident? The driver who struck you may offer subtle hints (such as admitting that he or she did not see you, or was doing something else immediately before the collision occurred). 

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