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Mental, visual and manual distracted driving

Drivers in New York may hear the term "distracted driving" and think of texting while driving. Though texting behind the wheel has fueled discussion and changed laws about distracted driving, there are other types of distracted driving that people may engage in without even realizing that what they're doing is dangerous. Distracted driving can be broken down into three types: cognitive, manual and visual. All are equally dangerous, and some of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving involve some combination of different types.

Cognitive distraction is mental distraction. It could mean being preoccupied with thoughts that keep a driver's mind off their driving or even being engaged in conversation with a passenger. Listening to music or audio books while driving can also increase the likelihood of cognitive distraction.

Visual distraction, as the term suggests, is looking at something other than the road. Dashboard devices like stereo systems or GPS can cause distraction, both visual and manual. Manual distraction is having one or both hands on something other than the steering wheel. In addition to texting, which involves all three types of distraction, actions such as eating, adjusting seatbelts, changing radio stations and many other common behaviors done while driving can be serious distractions.

Drivers are advised to take care of certain tasks before starting the car, such as checking their own and passenger seatbelts, programming their route into GPS and adjusting radio or stereo settings. Turning off cellphones before starting the car could also help prevent distractions.

In an effort to prevent motor vehicle accidents, New York enforces several distracted driving laws. It is against the law in New York to use a cellphone or any other handheld device while driving. Talking on a cellphone is allowed only with the use of a hands-free device or in the case of emergency. If a person is injured in a car accident because the other driver was distracted, the injured driver may wish to seek compensation.

SOURCE: DMV.com, "New York Distracted Driving Laws"

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