Five Things That Cause Distractions While Driving

Distracted driving is dangerous, and it is one of the leading causes of catastrophic traffic accidents in the United States. When behind the wheel, all drivers should be attentive to the road. A driver taking their eyes off the road for any reason, even if it’s only for a few seconds, runs the risk of causing a devastating catastrophe.

Common Causes of Distracted Driving

Visual distractions, manual distractions, and cognitive distractions are the three types of distracted driving. Even when there are no other cars nearby, any of these types of distracted driving are extremely dangerous. Distractions can result in a collision with wildlife or hinder the driver from reacting to unexpected changes in traffic patterns, such as debris on the road.

The five most common causes of distracted driving are listed below, according to various insurance companies and government oversight agencies.

1. Cognitive Distraction

Approximately 62 percent of distracted drivers who cause accidents report periods during which they were deep in thought, fully cognitively disengaged from driving or fantasizing about something else.

Anything from sleep deprivation to a long stressful shift can result in cognitive distraction when leaving work for the day and returning home. Drivers must maintain their concentration on driving safely and dealing with distractions until they have arrived at their destinations safely.

2. Smartphone Use

Distracted driving rates have risen across the United States with the introduction of smartphones. And so have the rates of severe and life-threatening accidents caused by distracted driving. Smartphone usage combines all three types of distraction into one simple activity, making smartphone use a particularly harmful potential diversion.

What’s worse is that while driving at modest speeds, having to look at a cellphone for even a few seconds can be equivalent to driving blindfolded for  one-hundred yards or more. For this reason, smartphone use accounts for almost 12 percent of all distracted driving accidents in the United States.

3. Outside Distractions 

Rubbernecking to gaze at an accident or other roadside incident while driving is extremely dangerous. This is particularly the case in instances where a large number of drivers in close proximity slow down to see the same thing.

If you turn your head, the motorist ahead of you may brake or stop before you have enough time to avoid a collision. Drivers who glance at objects surrounding their cars instead of paying attention account for about 7 percent of all distracted driving incidents.

4. Other Occupants

While driving, drivers may engage in conversation with their passengers or even have disagreements with them. For example, parents may have to deal with kids fighting in the backseat. Or pet owners may have difficulty transporting an animal that is too large to fit in a carrier in the car.

Drivers paying attention to their passengers instead of the road account for approximately 5 percent of all distracted driving incidents.

5. Reaching for Objects Inside the Vehicle

If a driver attempts to fish through their purse for objects or decides to search the vehicle with their hands off the wheel, the driver has a higher chance of causing a car crash.

Such activities can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle and are responsible for approximately 2 percent of all distracted driving injuries or deaths.

Always Avoid Distracted Driving

This article has covered just five common causes of distracted driving. That is just the tip of the iceberg compared to how many others there are. Therefore, regardless of the activity, focusing on the task at hand and avoiding unnecessary distractions can improve overall driver safety.