You are at risk of involvement in a distracted driving collision every time you drive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that every day in the U.S., more than 1,000 people sustain injuries and approximately nine people die in distracted driving car accidents.

Distracted driving includes any activity that removes your complete focus away from the road. This means that talking on your cellphone, eating and drinking, applying makeup, switching the radio or looking for directions using a GPS device are all distracted driving activities.

Categories of distraction

There are three main types of driver distraction:

  1. Cognitive—You become cognitively distracted when you take your mind off of driving. If, for example, you focus more on what you have to do at work during your commute than driving, you are cognitively distracted.
  2. Visual—When you take your eyes off of the road, you become visually distracted. For instance, if you look for something on your backseat while driving, you are visually distracted.
  3. Manual—Manual distraction occurs when you remove one or both of your hands from the steering wheel. For instance, if you reach for something near you while driving, you become manually distracted.

Although cognitive, visual and manual distractions are all dangerous, texting and driving is one of the most dangerous activities because it combines these three types of distraction.

Distracted driving laws in Washington

To reduce distracted driving accidents, it is illegal for you to hold your cellphone while your vehicle is in mission, while you wait at a stoplight or while you sit stopped in traffic in Washington, states the Washington State Patrol. These rules do not apply when you use your phone to contact emergency services.

You can, however, use hands-free devices to talk on the phone or send messages while driving. Additionally, you can use a single touch to start a function on your phone.