Americans are driving while distracted at alarming rates, and those numbers don’t seem to be falling much, despite public warnings.

According to the Center for Disease Control, each day an average of nine people are killed and over 1,000 are injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.

Distracted driving is defined as engaging in any activity that takes your attention off the road while operating a vehicle. Researchers categorize three types of distracted driving:

  1. Manual distractions: includes any reason for taking your hands off the steering wheel, such as grabbing something in your car, eating, or using your phone.
  2. Visual distractions: includes any time you take your eyes off the road. Texting, flipping through the radio, or even rubbernecking (looking intently at something as you drive past) are all visual distractions.
  3. Cognitive distractions: includes times you take your mental focus off of driving. Daydreaming and distracted thoughts are some examples, but so is a conversation over the phone or with another passenger, texting, and even listening to music or podcasts.

The three types of distracted driving often occur in combination with one another, which makes for an especially dangerous scenario. Not only can anything happen during the actual distraction, but reaction times are slower even if your eyes are on the road and hands are on the wheel.

Distracted drivers were responsible for 8.5% of all motor vehicle accidents in 2019. That statistic is alarming, considering the number of public awareness campaigns and new state laws that have gone into effect over the last several years in an effort to curb the behavior.

Watch the road and stay focused

Distracted driving is a highly preventable cause of thousands of deaths and injuries on the road. If you cause an accident while driving distracted, you may be held as negligent and therefore bear responsibility for the crash. If you’ve been injured in a collision with a distracted driver, you may qualify for a lawsuit against that driver to get compensation for your injuries and property damage.

The easiest way to prevent a distracted driving accident is to watch the road at all times, keep your focus on driving, and both hands on the wheel. Set an example for teenagers and other drivers to discourage it as well. Everyone is responsible for not letting distractions get in the way of others’ safety.