Many things can distract drivers and make them more likely to crash. Yet cell phones are one of the worst. Why is this?
First, it’s crucial to understand that there are three types of distraction:
- Physical distractions: These require you use one or two hands. For example, when holding a travel mug or reaching for something from your bag. It is always far safer to keep two hands on the wheel.
- Visual distractions: These require you to place your eyes somewhere other than the road, for instance, on a roadside billboard or when looking for something in your bag.
- Cognitive distractions: These occupy your mind, which harms your ability to make correct choices when driving. Even if you make the correct choice in the end, it will take you longer.
Phones distract you in all three ways
Your cell phone is one of the few things that can distract you in all three ways. Think about your coffee mug – it’s a physical distraction for your hands and a visual distraction when you lift it in front of your face. But you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it.
A billboard is a visual distraction and a cognitive one, but you can still keep both hands on the wheel. It does not distract you physically.
A phone requires you to use your hands to touch the screen or hold it. You need to look at it, so it distracts you visually. Then you have the cognitive distraction. A conversation requires much more of your mind than glancing at a billboard. You will likely think more and longer about the phone call.
That’s why phone use is such a problem. Yet many people still use their phones when driving. If one of them injures you in a crash, you need to understand your legal options.