Cognitive Driving Distractions

AUTHOR: A.J. Bruning | November 17, 2015
Cognitive Driving Distractions

Distracted driving is understood to be an activity, event, or entity that possess the ability to divert a person’s attention or focus away from the primary task of driving.1 In 2013, the National Highway Safety Administration conducted a study to determine the extent of distractions while driving, which indicated that nearly 424,000 injuries and over 3,000 deaths are attributed to some forms of distracted driving.2 There are three forms of distracted driving including visual distraction when eyes are taken off of the road, physical distraction when hands are removed from the wheel, and cognitive distraction when focus is taken off of driving.3

Types of Cognitive Distraction and Why It is Dangerous

Cognitive distraction has to do with a form of distraction that targets a person’s mental processing which can include talking with a passenger, being preoccupied with personal, family, or work related issues, or listening to radio stations or other forms of audio content.4 Some of the other leading forms of cognitive distraction include reading a map, dealing with children in the back seat, reading while driving, reading, talking or texting (including on a hands free device), and trying to use any item while driving such as make-up or an electronic device. Each of these forms of distraction can cause a driver to lose focus and result in a physical change in behavior that creates a risk of accident. For instance, if a distraction is taking up a portion of the driver’s overall attention capacity, then the driver is less likely to identify and adequately respond to risks and dangerous encountered on the road.

Cognitive distraction is based on effects sustained to the brain caused by the struggle to switch between tasks under the impression that a driver can multitask without a reduction in ability to perform each individual task appropriately.5 Cell phone use is one primary form of cognitive distraction, because when a driver is processing mentally to compose a spoken thought or send a text message, even though the physical vision is looking through the windshield, approximately half of what is around the vehicle is being overlooked in order to complete the cell phone task.6 This means that the brain’s subdivided concentration is what creates an impaired driver who is ill-equipped to safely drive, because the particular form of mental or cognitive distraction is continually fighting for the majority of the driver’s focus.

Contact an Experienced St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation

If you have been involved in an auto accident caused by a distracted driver, it is important to discuss the circumstances of your injury with an experienced auto accident attorney who can help to protect your legal rights and interests. To contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation please feel free to call the The Bruning Law Firm trial attorneys at 314-735-8100.



A.J. Bruning


I was born and raised to represent individuals who have been needlessly injured. I mean that literally. At a young age my father would tell me about the clients he was representing. I would meet them and take pride in their admiration of my father. I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer and represent clients that needed my help.

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