Cognitive distraction and Tennessee motorists

Cognitive distractions, like talking on a cellphone while driving, can be extremely dangerous and is responsible for many accidents each year.

Tennessee bans motorists from texting while driving. Although bus and novice drivers are prohibited from talking on both hand-held and hands free cellphones, all other drivers can do so without fear of any legal repercussions. Despite this cellular freedom, many studies show how talking on any type of cellphone while driving is a significant driver distraction, and may cause a tragic car crash.

Cognitive distraction and the brain

Cognitive distractions are activities that divert a motorist's attention away from the task of driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While many drivers in Tennessee and across the country feel as though they are able to multi-task, evidence shows that the human brain is incapable of doing so. The National Safety Council reported that the brain cannot complete two complex tasks at the same time. Instead, the brain switches from one activity to the other, leaving brief moments where the driver is not focused on driving at all.

This phenomenon, referred to as inattention blindness, causes motorists to 'not see' more than 50 percent of the cues in their driving environment. Inattention blindness reduces a driver's ability to respond to certain stimuli, including pedestrians, traffic signals, crosswalks, objects in the road, bad weather conditions and other drivers. In a brief moment, the driver could run a stoplight and smash into another vehicle, causing serious injuries.

Types of distractions

There are actually three types of distractions, according to the CDC. In addition to cognitive distractions, drivers may engage in manual or visual distractions. Manual distractions require drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel, such as changing a radio station or reaching for an object on the floor. Visual distractions, on the other hand, take the driver's eyes off of the road ahead. This might occur when the driver is looking through the glove box or looking down at his or her cellphone. Texting is especially dangerous because it involves all three types of distractions. However, other distractions, including eating, drinking, attending to kids in the backseat, programming a navigation device and putting on makeup are also dangerous.

How an attorney may be helpful

When someone is hit, injured or killed as a result of another person's choice to drive while distracted, they may be able to seek compensation for damages. The injured victim or the family of the deceased may receive money for medical expenses, lost wages from work, property damage and emotional trauma stemming from the accident. A personal injury attorney may be helpful in organizing your case, and helping you through the legal process.

Keywords: distracted, driving, accident, injury