5 Most Common Reasons for Distracted Driving

by Anne B. Robinson

Distracted driving has been one of the most common causes of severe traffic accidents for ages. In 2021 alone, more than 3,000 people were killed in car accidents due to distracted driving. This accounts for 9% of all fatal crashes on roads across the United States. Moreover, approximately 320,000 people are injured each year in motor vehicle accidents due to the same reason.

While cell phone use is often the culprit for distracted driving, any other type of distraction while operating a vehicle can also increase the crash risk. For example, reaching for a device or interacting with passengers can divert your attention from the road, increasing the chances of an accident. According to distracted driving attorneys, below are 5 of the most prevalent driver distractions contributing to vehicle crashes:

1. Cell Phone Use

Since the advent of smartphones, the number of distracted driving cases has significantly increased across the nation, and with them, the rates of motor vehicle crashes have also risen. Many drivers admit to using cell phones while driving. Studies show that looking at your phone for a few seconds at 55 mph is comparable to driving blindfolded for one hundred yards or more. Every time you use your phone, it takes your brain about 13 seconds to refocus on the task.

The use of cell phones is hazardous because it encompasses all four different categories of distracted driving (visual, auditory, cognitive, and manual distractions) into a single action. About 12% of auto accidents related to distracted driving involve cell phone use.

2. Rubbernecking

Anytime you turn your head to look at something outside the car, you’re in danger of distracted driving. It may be an eye-catching billboard, a traffic accident, an animal on the side of the road, a roadside event, or anything unexpected along your route.

Just remember that if something is distracting you as you drive, it may be distracting other drivers that are passing by. Having multiple distracted drivers close together creates a more dangerous situation. As you get distracted, the driver in front of you could slow down or stop before you have time to react. Being one of the main causes, Rubbernecking contributes to 7% of distracted driving accidents.

3. Adjusting Vehicle Components and Controls

It is not a big deal to scan the radio now and then, enter a location in your GPS, or adjust the temperature while driving. But, the truth is, reaching over to fiddle with the controls briefly takes your attention from the road. No matter how familiar you think you are with the position of the control buttons or dials in your car, taking your hand off the wheel puts you at risk of an accident.

4. Reaching for an Object in the Car

While driving, you may be tempted to fish through your purse for a cell phone or cosmetics, grab a sandwich, or look through the vehicle for other objects. This may require you to take one of your hands off the wheel.

This kind of distraction can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and crash. In fact, the simple act of reaching for an object while behind the wheel increases the chances of a traffic accident by about eight times.

5. Carrying on a Conversation

If you have passengers in the car, it’s natural to talk to them during the journey. In fact, you may feel kind of rude if you don’t. Children, in particular, choose the car as the best place to strike up fascinating conversations, and they might even end up singing or shouting out loudly out of excitement. This could take your attention from the road, which can eventually lead to accidents.

However, having a passenger in the car isn’t necessarily bad, as they act as an extra set of eyes on traffic. The problem comes in when you get too involved in a conversation. About 5% of distracted driving accidents involve drivers talking to passengers.

Remember not to let your full attention get derailed from the road as you converse.

Final Thoughts

Using your cell phone, adjusting controls, talking with other occupants, reaching for an object, or looking at something or someone outside the car are common causes of distractions. The issue of distracted driving is the increased accident risk – which endangers you, your passengers, and the others around you on the road.

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