8 Major Driving Distractions and How to Avoid Them

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With the prevalence of cell phone use and onboard devices in cars, distracted driving is an increasing problem. Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows distracted driving is a significant factor in fatal car crashes, with as many as one in ten deaths on the road linked to driver distraction.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is defined as any activity which takes a driver’s attention away from operating their vehicle. It’s a serious safety hazard you can avoid by always keeping your attention on the road, other cars, pedestrians, and the controls in your car. It is your legal responsibility to avoid distractions while driving.

Top Eight Driving Distractions

There’s a lot that can distract a driver, but the most common distractions contributing to fatal accidents are:

  1. Daydreaming

  2. Using a cell phone

  3. Looking at something outside the vehicle

  4. Activities of passengers

  5. Reaching for something on the dashboard, seat, or floor

  6. Eating, drinking, or smoking

  7. Changing the radio, climate control, or using a device in the car

  8. Pets, insects, and objects moving inside the vehicle

As this list shows, almost all driving distractions are under the control of the driver and are avoidable.

How to Avoid Being Distracted While Driving

Whenever you drive, focus your attention on the road and the operation of your car. Insist that your passengers help you drive safely by instituting a “safety first” approach while you’re behind the wheel.

Cell phones, even hands-free devices, are one of the biggest driver distractions. Using a cell phone while driving is actually against the law in many states. Set your phone to silent before you get in the car, and never text while driving. Pull over to a legal parking place if you need to use your phone for any reason.

Besides avoiding cell phones, the following tips can help you stay focused:

  • Avoid eating, drinking, and smoking while driving.

  • Pull over if you need something from the floor, dashboard, glove compartment, or another part of the car.

  • Don’t engage in sightseeing while you drive. Stop your car in a safe place if you want to look around.

  • Adjust climate controls, radio, and other infotainment systems before you start driving, or pull over to make adjustments, or ask a front-seat passenger to assist you.

  • Require passengers to keep their seat belts on at all times and ask for their cooperation in helping you keep your attention on driving.

  • Do not drive when you are upset, excited, or having other strong emotions or physical symptoms which could interfere with your concentration.

  • Transport pets in pet carriers or have them secured safely in the rear of the car. Secure objects inside the vehicle so they do not roll around.

By avoiding distracted driving, you will significantly reduce your risk of having an accident.

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