Most people have heard that drivers need to avoid getting distracted as it increases the chance they crash. Yet, with so many campaigns focusing on phones, people may not realize that many other things can be just as distracting.
Understanding the mechanisms of distraction can help you see how it can apply to many activities that drivers do without realizing just how dangerous they can be.
You should have two hands on the wheel when driving. It allows you to maneuver better to avoid a crash. Holding a phone prevents you from doing this, as does holding a drink or food or reaching for something from your bag.
Even if you use a hands-free device for a phone call, you still use your brain to make or receive it. It requires thought about what you are hearing and what you say. People are not as capable of multitasking as they like to think, and if your attention is on the phone call, it is not on the road. That can cause you to miss things.
Engaging in conversation with a passenger, listening to the news or music, thinking about work or even just daydreaming also cause cognitive distraction.
Looking at a phone takes your eyes away from the road, which could lead you to miss something important, such as a pedestrian about to step out into the road or a driver indicating to turn. So can staring at an event, landscape or sign outside the car.
If a driver injures you, it is always worth considering that they may have been distracted. You may need legal help to discover how.