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What are the three types of driver distraction?

If you are like most American motorists, you probably spend the better part of your day trying to decide how to cram 48 hours of work, chores and family time into a 24-hour period. To maximize time, many people try to multitask behind the wheel, but doing so often has devastating consequences.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than eight Americans lose their lives in distracted-driving related accidents every day, so learning how to reduce the number of these accidents is a matter of supreme importance, as well as one of public safety.

In general, distractions behind the wheel tend to fall into one or more of three main categories: cognitive distractions, manual distractions and physical distractions. Here is a closer look at each category.

Cognitive distractions

Cognitive distractions are those that take your mind away from the immediate task at hand, which is typically getting from one place to another safely and efficiently. For example, listening to a book while you drive has the potential to take your cognitive attention away from the roadway, as does an intense phone conversation - either on the phone or with the person seated next to you.

Manual distractions

A manual distraction is one that takes your hands away from the controls of your car, even if only for a moment. For example, rummaging around in your purse for a phone or mint is one example of a manual distraction, as is turning around to hand food or a bottle to a young child in the backseat. Using your hands to program an in-vehicle navigation device is another common example of a manual distraction, as is applying makeup or brushing your hair while in the driver's seat.

Visual distractions

A visual distraction is one that diverts your eyes away from the road ahead. For example, an eye-catching billboard on the side of the road might serve as a visual distraction. Looking down at your lap to read a text message or "rubbernecking" as you pass an accident scene are additional examples.

Some common types of distractions, such as texting, are particularly dangerous because they involve all three types of driver distraction, therefore increasing your risk of an accident exponentially. While learning to recognize and avoid engaging in distracted driving behaviors will probably reduce your chances of getting into an accident, there is only so much you can do when others refuse to follow traffic laws . If you find yourself or a loved one injured because of an accident with a distracted driver, you may want to consult an attorney.

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