The Most Common Causes Of Distracted Driving

by Jim on August 23, 2022

Regardless of the cause of distraction and the factors involved, distracted driving poses a significant threat to everyone on the road. To avoid taking unnecessary risks, always make the necessary adjustments beforehand and perform every task you need before getting on the road.

Not only will this help save lives, but it will also keep you from going against distracted driving laws. In this article, we’ll discuss the various elements of distracted driving and what you can do to ensure your personal safety.

Data On Fatal Crashes Caused By Distracted Drivers According To The Fatality Analysis Reporting System

According to records brought forward by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration, over 3,140 lives were lost due to accidents caused by distracted drivers in 2019 alone, which is quite alarming.

Data from an extensive survey carried out by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showed that drivers operating their cell phones or other electronic devices cause most car crashes.

Although there is no way to control all human factors responsible for distracted driver accidents, the insurance Institute for highway safety and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can help minimize casualties by raising awareness about the risks of distracted driving.

What Is Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is best described as any activity diverting a driver’s attention from the road. Although, in most cases, people associate incidents of distracted driving with cell phone use, which is not entirely wrong, many other factors other than cell phones could cause distractions while a driver is behind the wheel.

The 10 Most Common Causes Of Distracted Driving Accidents

Below are some of the most prevalent causes of distracted driver accidents and some distracted driving prevention techniques:

1. Texting And Driving

No matter how fast you are while texting or whether you want to check your phone notifications quickly, taking your eyes for a few seconds can be fatal because a lot can happen within that brief moment. For example, if a driver happens to be going 55 mph, that’s about 80 ft per second.

Reading a short text should take a minimum of 4 seconds, which is way too much time for the eyes to be off the road if we’re going by the 80 ft per second measurement mentioned above.

2. Talking On The Phone Or Using Electronic Devices

The dangers of talking on the phone while driving are common knowledge. However, the behavior persists, which is quite unfortunate considering the number of accidents caused by texting and talking on mobile phones while driving.

3. Adjusting Vehicle Components And Controls

It’s imperative to check the state of your vehicle’s exterior mirrors. It’s also a good idea to roll up the windows and ensure the overall condition of your car before turning on the ignition because performing any of these tasks while driving can be very distracting.

No matter how familiar you think you are with the position of your car’s buttons, it’s best to make the necessary adjustments before getting on the road, as doing so will prevent you from being involved in a car crash.

4. Tuning Climate Controls And Radio Audio

While it might not seem like a big deal to adjust your car’s air conditioning or scan the radio now and then, the truth is doing either of these can distract your attention from the roadway longer than you think, which is almost just as dangerous as drunk driving.

5. Moving Objects In The Car

A bug flying into your car through the window can be very distracting, much less if you have a restless pet along for the ride or items not well positioned that can drop any time.

We instinctively react when we notice something about to fall down or when we feel something sliding off the car seat. Whichever way you look at it, it’s much better to let the object fall to the ground than risk putting our lives in danger.

6. Conversing With Other Passengers

It can be pretty challenging to keep from interacting with passengers while in the car, especially if they are family or friends. However, having a passenger in the car with you doesn’t necessarily have to be a disadvantage as the other party can be an extra set of eyes for paying attention to the road, which can help prevent distracted driving.

You have to ensure not to let your full attention get derailed from the road and only talk when necessary.

7. Constantly Reaching For Items Around You Or In The Back Seat Of Your Car

Sliding in a different CD while driving or checking to see if you have your license requires that one of your hands be taken off the wheel. Tasks like these can be very distracting and lead to a car crash.

8. Eating And Drinking

To be able to eat or drink while driving, you must take one hand off the steering wheel, which is a risk. Also, spilling water or food on yourself can be very upsetting, especially if you’re headed to someone important. If you feel compelled to have a snack or a drink while driving, ensure to do so cautiously or use a spill-free container to avoid causing an accident.

9. Rubbernecking

It’s difficult not to take a second look after catching a glimpse of someone or something peculiar, for instance, an animal by the side of the road or an accident site. While it’s not necessarily dangerous to take a look every once in a while in case of emergencies, taking your eyes off the road too often can lead to an accident, which is a risk you don’t want to take.

10. Listening To Your Favorite Song

Most drivers are aware of the fact but still choose to amp up the speakers when driving. Those generally distracted by this are novice drivers and high school students. This driver error is not necessarily a safety hazard, but it’s best to play it safe to avoid fatal crashes.

Different Types Of Distracted Driving

Here are the four different categories of distracted driving that lead to motor vehicle crashes:

1. Visual Distractions

These are the kind of interferences that prompt you to avert your gaze from the road. For example, seeing something unusual within or outside your vehicle, sending a text message, and cell phone use which is basically the leading cause of car accidents.

2. Auditory Distractions

These sound-based interferences cause a driver to lose focus on the road. For example, discussing with passengers, loud phone notifications, or listening to loud music.

3. Manual Distractions

These involve all activities that prompt you to take your hands off the wheel. Activities like eating, picking up things that fall, or using an electronic device. It is always essential to do all that you need to do before beginning your journey. Driving time is also not the time to adjust rear and side mirrors.

4. Cognitive Distractions

Cognitive distractions occur based on boredom or when a driver has way too many things in mind. You want to ensure that you are of sound and comfortable mind every time you drive. Avoid driving while you are sad, anxious, in deep thought, or deliriously happy.

Tips To Help You Maintain Your Focus While Driving

While it might seem like only a select few are guilty of distracted driving, it is the exact opposite. As a matter of fact, every driver has at some point been distracted while on the road. It only seems like an uncommon problem simply because they focused their attention back on the road, thereby averting an accident.

The following are some helpful tips you can try to help keep your focus on the road.

1. Refrain From Using Your Cell Phone Unless It’s An Emergency

When you’re behind the wheels, ensure to tuck your phone away to avoid being tempted to use it. If your phone rings and you feel it could be an emergency call, your best action is to pull over before taking the call. Failure to do this is the primary cause of phone-related road accidents, so you should keep this in mind whenever your phone rings while driving.

2. Always Remember To Pull Off The Road When You’re Feeling Drowsy

Feeling sleepy while driving multiplies the risk of being involved in a road accident by nearly five times, so before you start nodding off, make a quick stop rather than trying to get to your destination faster.

3. Never Multi-task While Driving

At times we have no choice but to spend time on the road, which can lead to a nagging feeling that there’s something we have to do right away when, in fact, we can always do it later. Regardless of how much you want to do just that one thing, remember that it’s not worth risking your life, or better still, do what you need to before getting on the road.

4. You should limit the number of passengers

Ensure to keep the number of passengers in your car to a minimum to avoid being distracted. Whenever you have friends or family in the car with you, you must be even more cautious.


Distracted driving attracts several consequences depending on the accident’s severity, including fines, license suspension, and in the worst-case scenario, jail time.

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