Cognitive distraction and driving: What you should know

On Behalf of | Oct 7, 2020 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

There is no question that distracted driving kills thousands of Americans every year. In 2018 alone, 2,841 people died in car accidents involving distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

As a result many states, including Georgia, have banned the use of hand-held cellphones while driving and taken other precautions to minimize distracted driving fatalities. Yet, cognitive distraction continues to endanger people on the road.

A look at cognitive distraction

Manual and visual distractions occur when you take your hands off the steering wheel and eyes off the road to engage in a task. Cognitive distractions, on the other hand, happen when you remove your focus from driving. Even while you may feel in control of your vehicle while talking to someone on your hands-free cellphone, your brain is not able to focus on two complex tasks simultaneously.

The National Safety Council reports that rather than focusing on both tasks at the same time, the brain bounces back and forth between one activity and the other. This means that there are moments in time where the mind is not focused on driving at all, leaving you more susceptible to certain hazards, including bad weather conditions, pedestrians, objects in the road and other distracted drivers.

A look distractive tasks

It is important to avoid engaging in any tasks that remove your concentration from driving. This includes the following:

  • Talking on a hand-held or hands-free cellphone
  • Using voice-activated technology to compose an email or send a text
  • Engaging in a heated conversations with another passenger in the car

While these tasks do not involve use of your eyes or hands, they can still act as a significant source of cognitive distraction and cause a serious car accident.

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