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What are the different types of driver distraction?

A distracted driver may be affected manually, visually or mentally. Texting while driving involves all three of these distraction types.

For many years, accident factors such as speeding and drunk driving have killed or seriously injured countless people across the country. Distracted driving is almost constantly in the headlines now as a major cause of car accidents, but driver distractions are hardly new. With the increasing prevalence of cellphone use among residents of Maryland and elsewhere, many drivers are distracted by technology. However, there are other ways to get sidetracked while behind the wheel.

According to, more than 3,000 people are killed in accidents, and many more are injured, as a result of distracted drivers. When a driver is traveling on the freeway and takes his or her eyes off the road for just a few seconds, it is the same as driving the length of a football field with a blindfold on. If a pedestrian or other vehicle crosses the driver’s path during that time, or if the driver drifts off the road or into another lane, the consequences can be devastating.

Many ways to drive while distracted

What exactly are the main types of distraction? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, driving distractions can involve visual, manual or cognitive activities. Visual distraction takes a driver’s eyes off the road. Manual distraction involves the hands, feet or other parts of the body needed for driving. Cognitive distraction removes a driver’s mental concentration from the act of driving.

Some of the different ways to be distracted while driving, which involve any of the three distraction types, include the following:

  • Eating or drinking

  • Changing radio stations

  • Talking to passengers

  • Putting on makeup or brushing hair

  • Paying attention to something in the distance or at the side of the road

  • Trying to find something that has fallen on the floor of the vehicle

Smartphone use while driving is particularly dangerous because it involves all three distraction types. It requires the use of a driver’s eyes, hands and mental concentration.

Cellphone use while driving in Maryland

Texting while driving is illegal in Maryland, according to NBC Washington. However, accidents that are reportedly caused by cellphone use have been rising in the state. Last April in Montgomery County, a police officer dressed as a homeless man with a cardboard sign and stood by the side of a busy road. Whenever he spotted a driver using a phone that was not hands-free, he alerted law enforcement up the road about the offenses. Dozens of tickets and warnings were given out during the operation, in hopes of raising awareness of the dangers and preventing accidents.

You may need to speak with a personal injury attorney if you are injured by someone else in a car accident. An attorney should be able to advise you on whether or not you are eligible for compensation, and keep you updated during each step of the legal process.

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