It’s no secret that drivers are constantly dealing with distractions out there on the road. Specific activities can be physically, visually or cognitively distracting. Some can be all three at once.
Let’s use the example of eating a hotdog: If you think about the hot dog before you pull off the road to buy one, there will be a cognitive distraction. Your mind is on the hotdog rather than the traffic.
The physical distraction kicks in once you have it in the car with you
You will use one hand to hold the food leaving only one to steer the car. If you open a ketchup sachet on the move, you’ll need to dedicate both hands to your food, steering with your elbows or knees. It’s clearly dangerous, but plenty of people do it.
Eating a hotdog is not so visually distracting. You might glance away from the road as you search for the ketchup, but for the most part, you can see the road over the top of the hotdog. Once the hotdog is finished and you’ve tidied up, it is no longer a distraction. You probably forget about it straight away.
Now compare this to arguing with someone sitting next to you
You can look straight ahead for much of the discussion but will inevitably turn to face them at some point, causing a visual distraction.
If you use a hand to gesture, there’s a minor physical distraction, as that hand is off the wheel. If you need to lean away and raise a hand to defend yourself from their blows, that becomes a serious physical distraction.
Yet the biggest distraction of all, in this case, is likely cognitive. The argument may be taking all of your mental energy, leaving little to think clearly about how to navigate safely through the traffic. Even once you’ve both fallen silent, it may rankle in your mind for a long time, preventing you from fully focusing on driving.
If a distracted driver injures you in a crash, consider finding out more about how to claim compensation.