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Watch Out for Distracted Drivers
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In many instances, defensive driving means dealing with distractions afflicting other Illinois motorists. If you’re aware of the dangers and know how to identify them, you may be better equipped to handle and avoid them when they come.

Cognitive, manual and visual distractions

Distractions are a major reason why motor vehicle accidents happen. More than 3,100 people died in 2019 as a result of distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

There’s only so much you can do to stay safe on the road when you’re only focused on your own driving. No matter how attentive you are, there’s no telling how another person’s going to drive. Watch out for these warning signs to keep yourself and your loved ones safe on every journey.

Distracted driving isn’t just limited to texting. While people using their phones is a major problem, it’s just one of many cognitive distractions that put others at risk. A cognitive distraction is anything that takes the attention of the driver away from the road. This can include spacing off or getting angry, whether it’s at another driver, someone else in the car or something unrelated that happened earlier that day.

There are also manual distractions, which involve the driver’s hands. Eating and drinking in the car are common culprits in this category.

Finally, visual distractions include anything that causes you to look away from the road. As you can see, texting and driving can fit into all three of these categories.

Identifying a distracted driver

If you see someone eating or drinking, it’s a surefire sign that they’re not giving their total attention to the task of driving. Even if they’re just chewing, the driver may still be distracted because they’re busy enjoying their food. There’s also the possibility that they’ll choke.

Distractions may be obvious if there are others in the car interacting with the driver. This can be from children who are being fussy, an argument or simply a passionate discussion.

You might also notice the driver’s head bobbing, looking up and down. This is another sign of texting or phone use. Or the driver may have dropped something and they’re searching for it on the car floor.

Drivers who travel at an inconsistent speed are likely distracted. You might also notice sudden braking or that they hit the brakes more often than necessary.