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What is a cognitive driving distraction?

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Drivers have to be able to think about what’s going on around their vehicle so they can make suitable decisions about what to do as they’re driving. Anything that stops them from being able to do this is a distraction. 

While most people think about things like drivers taking their hands off the wheel or their eyes off the road as distractions, those aren’t the only types. Cognitive distractions are just as serious and can be just as deadly as manual and visual distractions. 

Why are cognitive distractions dangerous?

A cognitive distraction in driving refers to any mental activity or thought process that diverts a driver’s attention away from the primary task of operating the vehicle safely. Unlike visual or manual distractions, cognitive distractions occupy the driver’s mind and can negatively impact their situational awareness, decision-making and reaction time.

Examples of cognitive distractions include:

  • Daydreaming
  • Engaging in deep or emotional conversations
  • Thinking about work, personal problems or upcoming events
  • Listening to an engaging audiobook or podcast
  • Using a hands-free phone for calls or voice-to-text messaging

Cognitive distractions can cause drivers to miss important cues or react slower to changes in the driving environment, potentially leading to accidents or other unsafe situations. It’s always best for any driver to pull over if they’re deep in thought or having an intense conversation. 

Victims of distracted driving crashes may have serious injuries. Those who choose to seek compensation may have a challenge if they need to prove that a cognitive distraction was the cause of the crash. It’s likely best to work with someone familiar with these cases who can help you to determine how to proceed.