What Counts as Distracted Driving?

What Counts as Distracted DrivingDistracted driving is a big concern on the roads: It’s the reason for approximately 25% of all motor vehicle crash fatalities each year. When the term ‘distracted driving’ is used the first thing that comes to mind is often cellphone use. However, there are many other actions that are considered distracted driving that you may not have considered.

Different Types of Distracted Driving

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) classifies distracted driving into three categories of distractions: manual, visual, and cognitive.


Manual distractions include anything from taking one or both of your hands off of the wheel, eating, drinking, smoking, to other tasks that use your hands. In order to avoid manual distractions while driving, keep your hands on the wheel at all times, don’t eat or drink in the car, avoid reaching for items while driving.


Visual distractions cause your eyes to wander off the road. These can include reading directions, looking for items in your car, adjusting the radio, looking at things on the side of the road, and anything else that causes you to look away from the road. To avoid visual distractions, pull over to look at directions, don’t adjust the radio while driving, and keep your eyes on the road at all times.


Cognitive distractions cause your mind to drift away from the task of driving. Cognitive distractions can include talking to a passenger, daydreaming, being under the influence of drugs and alcohol, as well as anything else that mentally distracts you. To avoid cognitive distractions, focus all of your attention on the road, don’t drink and drive even if you think you feel okay to drive, and try to avoid things that could take your mind off of driving.

Phone Use and Driving

Phone use and driving is one of the most common distractions on the road and it is also one of the most dangerous. This is because it affects all three areas of concentration. Using your phone while driving takes your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road, and distracts you mentally.

Cell phone use while driving leads to 35,000 deaths each year in the United States.  Many cars now come equipped with Bluetooth to allow for hands-free calling. While this helps with keeping your hands on the wheel, it can still be a visual and cognitive distraction. The safest thing to do while driving would be to put your phone on “do not disturb” and not touch it until you reach your destination.

Staying Distraction-Free While Driving

It’s important to stay distraction free while driving. Make sure to follow the tips above to help ensure you’re distraction free and also view our blog 6 Tips to Avoid Summer Driving Hazards to see what other threats you need to watch out for on the road. Anything you want to do while driving can wait until you reach your destination. If something is urgent and can’t wait, make sure you pull off the road and come to a complete stop before dealing with it.

Even when you aren’t distracted accidents can happen while driving, and if they do you will want to make sure your insurance will cover it. Your job as a driver is to focus on the road and drive safely. Our job is to make sure you’re well insured and protected. If you have questions about your auto insurance coverage, contact our experts at TJ Woods.