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3 types of distracted driving

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2018 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

When most of us hear the term “distracted driving,” the first image that comes to mind is of a careless person behind the wheel with a cellphone is hand. Certainly, this is the case many times and too common of a trend among drivers. However, there are more ways in which drivers can be distracted, and they all have the potential to cause an accident.

Here are the three types of distracted driving and the many behaviors that fall in each category.


A manual distraction is one that causes a driver to remove one or both hands from the wheel. Common examples of a manual driving distraction include:

  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Adjust a passenger’s seatbelt
  • Searching through a purse or wallet
  • Turning knobs in the car
  • Smoking


A visual distraction is one that causes a driver’s eyes to wander off the road. A few typical examples of a visual driving distraction are:

  • Looking for items on the floor of the car
  • Checking or adjusting a GPS device
  • Changing the music
  • Adjusting temperature controls
  • Applying makeup
  • Taking in the view of the drive


A cognitive distraction is one that causes a driver’s mind or focus to drift away from the task at hand. Forms of cognitive driving distractions include:

  • Talking to a passenger
  • Road rage
  • Daydreaming
  • Thinking about something upsetting
  • Being under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Drowsy driving

Why the focus on texting?

Reading through these lists, it’s easy to see how some of these behaviors could be classified as more than one type of distracted driving. Texting is unique in that it hits all three: it takes a driver’s hand or hands off the wheel, it shifts their gaze off the road and it causes their mind to think about their response instead of driving. Perhaps this is why Illinois law prohibits texting while driving, but offers flexibility for other types of distracted driving.

However, distracted driving in any form can still be harmful to those on the road and cause an accident. Be sure to practice safe driving habits and be aware of how other drivers may be distracted while on the road.