According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to nine people are killed on a daily basis by accidents involving distracted driving. This is a problem that affects all motorists, including those living in Virginia, as many people fail to understand just how many different driving distractions are capable of pulling a person’s attention off the road.

The first step is to distinguish between the different categories of distractions behind the wheel. A manual distraction is one that causes a driver to remove her hands from the wheel. Eating is an example of a manual distraction, and while this activity seems relatively harmless it can lead to devastating accidents. There are also visual distractions, which occur when a person takes their eyes off the road. Looking down at your GPS while your vehicle is in motion is an example of a visual distraction.

There are also cognitive distractions. When your mind wanders while driving, you’re not fully aware of your surroundings. This poses a real threat since you won’t be able to react in time if another driver makes an unexpected maneuver or if you encounter a sudden road hazard. Texting and driving is so dangerous because it encompasses manual, visual, and cognitive distractions.

Younger drivers have the greatest risk of driving while distracted. In recent years, studies have shown that as many as 42% of high school students admitted to texting and driving. Additionally, drivers under the age of 20 are more likely to lose their lives in a crash that involved some level of distraction. It’s up to each driver to take the right steps to prevent distracted driving behaviors. Many laws have also been created with this goal in mind, and as of 2017 14 states have made it illegal to use a mobile device while driving.

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