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Understanding the three forms of distracted driving

There are three main types of distraction, which include visual, cognitive and manual, that endanger the lives of drivers every day.

Although many people in Massachusetts associate texting and driving as the main form of distracted driving, many other forms of distraction can endanger the lives of drivers, passengers and pedestrians. According to, distracted driving is defined as any activity that takes a driver’s full attention away from the road in front of him or her. This means that in addition to texting, activities like eating, using a GPS device, reading, grooming, watching a video and talking to other people in the vehicle are distracting and dangerous.

Types of distraction

Not only are there many activities that can distract drivers and endanger the lives of others, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are three main types of distraction. These include the following:

  • Cognitive–This form of distraction occurs when drivers stop thinking about driving. For example, a driver who is focused on what he or she has to do the rest of the day is cognitively distracted.
  • Manual — Drivers who remove their hands from the steering wheel of the car are manually distracted. For instance, a driver who reaches into the back of the vehicle to grab his or her cellphone is manually distracted.
  • Visual — Those who remove their eyes from the road in front of them are visually distracted. If, for instance, a driver looks at a navigation device while operating a vehicle, he or she is visually distracted.

Cognitively, manually and visually distracting activities are responsible for thousands of injuries and deaths in the U.S. on a daily, monthly and annual basis. The CDC states that every day in the U.S. 1,161 people are injured in car accidents involving distraction and eight people are killed.

Texting while driving in Massachusetts

To reduce the number of drivers who are injured or killed on the roads in Massachusetts in distracted driving collisions, the state enacted the Safe Driving Law in September of 2010, states the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. Under this law, drivers are prohibited from typing, sending or reading electronic messages when they are behind the wheel of a vehicle. This law also bans novice drivers from using a handheld device for any purpose while driving.

Despite the existence of this law, many drivers continued to be injured or killed in distracted driving collisions on the roads in Massachusetts. Those who experience physical, psychological or emotional harm in an accident caused by a distracted driving should contact an attorney in their area for legal guidance and assistance.

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