Beware of mental distractions while driving

Frank S. Clowney III

Distracted driving literature often focuses on warning about the dangers of texting and driving. Anything that causes a driver to let go of the wheel with one or both hands or to look away from the road is a distraction — and very dangerous.

While this is certainly true, motorists need to also be aware of the dangers of mental distractions, which are also known as cognitive distractions. Many things that people do all the time, thinking it’s safe, could potentially lead to an accident.

Mentally, you want to focus on the task of driving 100% of the time that you are behind the wheel. You need to think about guiding the car properly in the lane, anticipating what other drivers are going to do and adhering to traffic laws.

In practice, though, drivers often get bored. They start listening to music or podcasts. They talk to friends in the car with them. They begin thinking about weekend plans or jobs they want to get done around the house or where they want to go on that next vacation.

Letting your mind wander like this is just as dangerous, in many ways, as texting. Your lack of focus could delay your reaction when something happens on the road around you, and that could lead to a crash.

Keeping your own mind on driving is only half of the battle. You know how easy it is to get distracted while driving. Everyone else is dealing with these same types of distractions. If one of them makes a mistake and hits you, you may need to seek financial compensation.