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Cognitive Driving Distractions Can Be Deadly

Cognitive distraction can be defined as any form of distraction that affects a person’s mental processing. It occurs when the driver’s mind wanders.


According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), distracted driving involves engaging in an activity that takes your attention away from the primary task of driving. In 2013, as many as 3,154 people were killed in distracted driving accidents, compared to 3,328 in the previous year.

Types of Distracted Driving

  • manual distraction – taking your hands off the steering wheel
  • visual distraction – taking your eyes off the road
  • cognitive distraction – taking your mind off of driving

Of these three types of distractions, cognitive distraction is possibly the one that gets minimal attention. Whenever there is a mention of distracted driving, we think of manual or visual distractions. However, the reality is that cognitive distraction can be as dangerous as any other type of distraction and can lead to serious accidents.

Cognitive Distraction and Why it is Dangerous

Cognitive distraction can be defined as any form of distraction that affects a person’s mental processing. It occurs when the driver’s mind wanders. This can happen when:

  • reading a map kept on one’s lap, looking at directions
  • changing the radio station
  • looking at something or someone by the roadside
  • dealing with children in the back seat
  • voice controlled texting
  • thinking deeply
  • being stressed out about work or arriving on time

Each of these types of distractions can cause a driver to lose focus and can result in a physical change in the driver’s behavior, increasing the risk of an accident. For example, if the driver is thinking deeply about something that happened at home or at the office, the driver is less likely to identify and properly respond to any risks or dangerous conditions encountered on the roadway.

The Danger of Multitasking

Cognitive distractions occur when you are trying to multitask. The struggle to juggle tasks reduces the ability of the driver to perform each of the tasks properly. When you are typing a text message using voice command, your attention is diverted into forming words and sentences, speaking them clearly and checking the screen to see if everything is typed correctly. This creates a major distraction and takes your attention off the road even though you may be looking at the road ahead. This subdivided attention renders the driver unable to drive safely, because of continuously struggling to stay focused on the road.

St. Louis Car Crash Attorney

Distracted driving accidents are often serious because the driver fails to recognize dangers and respond to them appropriately. Distracted drivers often make grave mistakes and cause accidents that result in serious injuries to all involved. If you have been injured by a distracted driver, contact a St. Louis car crash attorney to get help with your claim. Call The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. at (314) 361-4242 for a free consultation.

Updated: January 17, 2019