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Top Five Distractions While Driving

March 8, 2019 |

Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of serious traffic accidents in the United States, and all drivers should always strive to pay close attention to the road when behind the wheel. A driver who diverts his or her attention from the road for any type of distraction, even if only for a few seconds, risks causing a catastrophic accident.

Understanding Distracted Driving

Distracted driving exists in three main categories:

  • Visual distractions that divert the driver’s eyes away from the road.
  • Manual distractions requiring the use of the driver’s hands.
  • Cognitive distractions that draw the driver’s focus away from driving.

Any and all of these types of distracted driving are incredibly dangerous, even when no other cars are near the driver. Distraction can cause an accident with wildlife or prevent the driver from reacting to sudden changes on the road, debris, or unexpected changes in traffic patterns. Wisconsin was found to be the 5th worst state for animal collisions alone in the United States.

Five Most Common Distractions While Driving

Research from various insurance carriers and government oversight agencies points to various reasons for distracted driving, but all drivers should at least know the five most common causes.

  1. Cognitive distraction. About 62% of distracted drivers who cause accidents report periods lost in thought, completely cognitively detached from the task at hand, or daydreaming. Anything from lack of sleep to a stressful day at work can cause this type of distraction when heading home for the day. Drivers must remain focused on driving safely and deal with distractions once they arrive safely at their destinations.
  2. Cell phone use. Since the advent of the smartphone, distracted driving numbers have increased across the United States, and with them the rates of serious and fatal accidents from distracted driving. Cell phone use is especially dangerous among possible distractions due to the fact it encompasses all three categories of distraction into a single action. Looking at a phone for even a few seconds at moderate speeds can equate to driving blind for one hundred yards or more. Roughly 12% of all distracted driving accidents involve cell phone use.
  3. Events outside the vehicle. “Rubbernecking,” or turning your head while driving to look while passing an accident or other roadside event, is incredibly dangerous. This is especially true because in most of these situations, many drivers close together slow down to observe the same thing. If you turn your head, the driver in front could slow down or stop before you have time to prevent a collision. About 7% of all distracted driving accidents occur to drivers looking at things outside their vehicles instead of paying attention.
  4. Drivers may carry on conversations or even have arguments with their passengers while driving. Parents may contend with children fighting in the backseat, or pet owners may have trouble with a large pet too big for a carrier in the car. About 5% of distracted driving incidents involve drivers paying more attention to their passengers than the road ahead.
  5. Reaching for devices inside the vehicle. A driver may attempt to fish through a purse for cosmetics, a cell phone, or look through the vehicle using his or her hands for other objects. These distractions may cause a driver to lose control of a vehicle and represent about 2% of all distracted driving accidents.

These are the most common types of distractions. Accidents involving distracted drivers can also occur from eating and drinking behind the wheel, adjusting vehicle control settings, smoking, and many other possible causes. All drivers must always use care and drive responsibly. Causing a distracted driving accident can lead to civil liability for the victim’s damages as well as criminal charges for violating state or local distracted driving ordinances. Any type of distracted driving can have devastating consequences. If you have been involved in a car accident caused by any of these common causes, contact our Milwaukee distracted driving accident lawyers today.

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