Most people in Missouri and across the United States are very familiar with driving under the influence, but distracted driving engenders a few more question marks. Unlike operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, distracted driving is much more nebulous in nature. But, the definition of distracted driving is a lot fuzzier, that does not mean it is any less dangerous. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines three specific instances of distracted driving: visual, manual, and cognitive.

Visual distraction is simple: it is when you take your eyes off the road. While it may seem obvious that you need to be looking at the road to drive well, many people pull their eyes off the road to check a navigation system, a cell phone, or to deal with the kids in the back seat.

Manual distraction is when you physically take your hands off the wheel. Probably the most famous example of this is texting and driving, but most of us have probably seen people eating behind the wheel or even applying makeup. All of this is a form of distracted driving.

A cognitive distraction is anything that takes your mind away from the road. Cognitive is probably the most abstract of distractions, given that it is difficult to tell if somebody is daydreaming behind the wheel or not. Cognitive distractions may also occur if somebody is too tired to concentrate.

Operating a cell phone while driving is particularly bad since it involves all three forms of distraction. But even being distracted and only one way can cause a serious accident. This is why distracted driving laws are becoming stricter in Missouri and across the United States.