Everyone is aware of the dangers related to driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but driving while distracted is also a huge problem on American roadways. Preventing distracted driving can save thousands of lives a year.

In order to prevent distraction, it is vital to understand the different kinds of distraction. According to the CDC, the three main types distracted driving are visual, manual and cognitive.

How are these distractions different?

A visual distraction from driving means that your eyes are not on the road. A manual distraction involves taking your hands off the wheel of the car for any reason. A cognitive distraction is something that takes your attention away from driving. Some types of distractions may involve all three.

A good example of this is texting while driving. If you are texting while you are driving your hands are not on the wheel, making this a manual distraction. Your eyes are also on the screen of the cell phone rather than the road, making it a visual distraction. Finally, your attention is also on composing the message rather than what is going on around you. This makes it a cognitive distraction.

How can I prevent distracted driving?

The best way to prevent distracted driving is to refrain from engaging in activities other than operating the vehicle. Of course, sometimes this is not entirely possible: if somebody is in the car with you it is unlikely you will never speak to him or her. This is technically a cognitive distraction, but for most people it is manageable.