While texting and driving is dangerous, it isn’t the only form of distraction that threatens the lives of drivers and those on the road with them. Many drivers in Utah wrongly believe that they become distracted only when they read or send text messages to another person as they operate a vehicle. 

There are three types of distractions that we deal with while we’re driving. To be safe on the road, we need to avoid these distractions actively. In today’s blog, we’re discussing these distractions and how to avoid them so we can all be better drivers! Keep reading to learn more. 

The Three Types of Distraction

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are three primary types of distraction: manual, cognitive, and visual. Around 3,000 people die every year at the hand of distracted drivers paying more attention to something other than the road. Let’s take a closer look at these kinds of distractions. 


A manual distraction involves you taking your hands off the steering wheel. Even if you keep your eyes on the road, you’re still distracted because your sole focus is not on the road. Do you keep your phone in your cup holder? Reaching for it is a distraction. So is getting your sunglasses from your purse if the sun comes out from behind a cloud. 

It would be difficult to avoid manual distractions entirely, but we can take steps to minimize these distractions. For example, you can enable the sound on your GPS so you don’t look down at your phone. Many GPS apps will tell you when a turn is coming up about one-quarter of a mile in advance so you can anticipate it without needing to look down.

As another example, put your sunglasses on your head so you can flip them down when the sun comes out. Your distractions will last for a split second, significantly reducing your risk of getting into a crash.


Cognitive distractions happen in your mind. You could have your eyes on the road, but your brain could be somewhere else. Are you worried about a test coming up and trying to remember which president said a famous quote? That’s a cognitive distraction. 

Are you jamming out to your favorite song, maybe dancing a little in your seat while you sing along? We’ve all done it! It’s yet another form of cognitive distraction. Any time your mind isn’t solely focused on the road, you’re distracted. 


Visual distractions involve taking your eyes off the road, even if only for a second. It also involves looking at things other than the road. If a deer is crossing the street, that’s a visual distraction. So is avoiding the mattress that fell out of the back of a truck on the highway! 

What You Can’t Use Your Phone For

It’s impossible to avoid distractions while you’re driving entirely. You could be manually and visually distracted at the same time. Instead of trying to prevent these distractions, work to minimize them. The less you’re distracted, the better!

The state of Utah recognizes how dangerous distracted driving can be. That’s why laws have become stricter in recent years, to keep drivers safer. It’s illegal to dial a phone number, browse the internet, or take photos if you’re driving. 

Simply put, you can’t casually use your phone for entertainment while driving. It poses too great a risk to other drivers. 

What You Can Use Your Phone For

However, you can use your phone for some purposes while driving, even though it causes distractions. The exceptions that Utah allows are for the following reasons:

  • Using voice communication to make a phone call, send a text, play music, etc.
  • To look at a map or use GPS.
  • To respond to a medical emergency.
  • To report or handle a safety hazard.
  • To report criminal activity.
  • To do one’s job as a law enforcement officer.

Now, it’s important to understand that just because it’s legal doesn’t mean you should do it all the time. Hands-free systems are much better than looking down at your phone, but they are still a distraction.

Penalties for Disobeying Distracted Driving Laws

There are penalties if you’re caught using your phone for a reason not permitted by law. First-time offenders will be guilty of a class C misdemeanor and must pay a $100 fine. 

If your distracted driving causes severe bodily injury to another person, the misdemeanor goes up to a class B. Repeated offenses within three years are also class B misdemeanor offenses. 

Simply put, unnecessary distracted driving is against the law and comes with penalties. By keeping the law while driving, you’ll be keeping yourself and others as safe as possible. 

Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton 

Driving will always come with risks, no matter how careful you are. It’s impossible never to be distracted behind the wheel, but it is possible to minimize distractions and focus as best you can. That means eliminating texting and driving. 

If you become cognitively, manually, or visually distracted, you compromise your ability to drive a vehicle safely. This is just as true for other drivers as it is for you. 

Were you injured in an accident caused by a negligent driver? You may be entitled to compensation for the accident, especially if your vehicle needs repair or you were injured. We recommend consulting with an attorney who can help you understand your legal rights.

Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton represents personal injury victims who were wrongfully injured. We have over 25 years of experience. We are the experts you need to guide you through the process and get you the compensation you deserve.

We serve the greater Salt Lake and Utah County areas, including Salt Lake City, West Jordan, South Jordan, Provo, and Orem. We offer free case evaluations where we review your case and determine how we can best help you. To get started, contact us today. We’ll be happy to get you started!