Cognitive distraction poses serious danger for South Carolina motorists

While there are several forms of distracted driving, cognitive distractions are often overlooked but pose a serious threat to motorists on the road.

In 2013, South Carolina became one of 44 states banning motorists from texting and driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. While this law may help to deter drivers from operating their hand-held mobile devices, it doesn't fully take away the dangers of distracted driving. Hand-held and hands free cellphones are both significant forms of cognitive distraction and can result in traumatic car accidents, devastating injuries and death.

Types of distractions

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are three types of distractions:

  • Cognitive distractions: Activities that divert a driver's focus and concentration away from the road;
  • Manual distractions: Activities that cause a driver to remove his or her hands from the steering wheel; and
  • Visual distractions: Activities that cause a driver to take his or her eyes off of the road.

Although all three types of distractions pose a significant danger to motorists on South Carolina roadways, less attention is given to the dangers of cognitive distraction.

A closer look at cognitive distraction

After carefully reviewing over 30 studies conducted on cognitive distraction and driving, the National Safety Council found that talking on a hand-held or hands free device while driving is incredibly dangerous. While drivers may have their hands on the steering wheel and eyes focused on the road, their mind may be elsewhere. The phenomenon is known as inattention blindness, and it causes drivers to 'not see' up to 50 percent of the information in their field of vision.

Inattention blindness occurs when people try to multi-task. Drivers may feel as though they are able to engage in a conversation while driving. However, the brain is actually incapable of successfully completing two complex activities simultaneously. Rather than focusing on both driving and listening to the person on the other end of the line, the brain switches back and forth between the two tasks. While the brain is listening to the conversation, it is unable to focus on the road. Cognitive distraction results in a decrease in a driver's response time to certain stimuli, such as stop signs, pedestrian crosswalks and traffic signals. It can also slow a driver's response to an animal in the road, inclement weather conditions or another motorist's erratic driving behavior.

Contact an attorney

People who have been involved in a distracted driving car accident may suffer from severe injuries and emotional trauma. An attorney can help people who have been victimized by negligent drivers. You may be eligible for compensation for your injuries, lost wages from work, pain and suffering.

Keywords: distracted, driving, texting, accident