What are the three types of distracted driving?

Distracted driving can happen in a variety of ways even though people often associate it with cell phones. Something as simple as having a conversation with a passenger can be distracted driving.

Things you do every day without thinking about them can distract you while driving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains there are three types of distractions that may occur when you are driving and they are each something that takes your attention away from driving.

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Manual distractions are those that take your body away from the act of driving. For example, reaching for a tissue on the passenger seat is a manual distraction because you must remove one hand from the steering wheel.


Driving requires your full attention and consciousness. Anything you do that might divide or take away your mental focus on the task is a distraction. Cognitive distractions can be anything from talking to someone else in the car or on the phone, even with a hands-free device.

Cognitive distractions do not have to be something you physically do or participate in. They could also include being too tired or under the influence of a substance, which would make it difficult for you to mentally focus on driving.


Visual distractions are things that take your eyes off the road. Looking at someone else in the car, down at your phone or even at the radio are all types of visual distractions. Moving around to a point where you cannot see the road, such as what would happen when reaching for something on the floor, would also fall into this category.

A visual distraction could also be something that obscures your vision, such as a dirty or broken windshield.