Distracted Driver Accidents

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10 Driving Distractions That Could Cause a Fatal Accident


Chances are, you see distracted drivers every day. Arguably, you’ve seen distracted drivers every time you hit the road.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving behaviors, including texting, led to 3,450 deaths in 2016 alone. Since measuring distracted driving behaviors can be difficult, in reality, this number is much, much higher.

In honor of Distracted Driving Month, it’s time to take another look at distracted driving. Below are the top 10 reasons why fatal distracted driving accidents happen. These actions can easily lead to an accident, so if you’re doing anything besides focusing on the road, time to take another look in the (rearview) mirror.

1. Using Your Phone

Type: Manual

Texting, listening to your voicemail, and dialing is all significant enough to distract a driving. Even if at a stoplight or stop sign, using your cellphone is illegal and could be the reason you miss a light, or worse, lose your life.

“Drivers who text behind the wheel can, and should, be accountable for their actions,” state the Phoenix car accident lawyers at Begam Marks & Traulsen, P.A., “Distracted drivers are often at fault for car accidents because they don’t have their eyes on the road at the time of the crash.

2. Daydreaming

Type: Cognitive

Daydreaming or being “lost in thought” is the number one distraction responsible for the most amount of fatal car crashes. It may be tempting to let your mind drift while stuck in soul-crushing traffic, but keeping your mind off the road poses a serious risk to yourself and all other drivers on the road.

3. Eating

Type: Manual, Visual

In a study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it was concluded that those who eat and drive increase the odds of an accident by 80%.

The act of eating requires at least one hand to feed yourself (unless you have a devoted passenger), which can impair your reaction time on the road. In addition to the actual act of feeding yourself, taking your eyes off the road to look for any food-related items, such as a napkin or fork, can be equally as dangerous.

4. Staring at Your Dog (or the insect that flew into your car)

Type: Visual

Having any type of animal in the car (invited or not) can be a serious distraction to drivers, putting everyone’s lives at risk. Petting your animal or telling it to not to do something can divert your attention and eyes away from the road.

5. Smoking

Type: Manual

The act of pulling out a cigarette, flicking the lighter, lighting, and puffing can take a significant amount of time, thus diverting your attention and eyesight. Accidents happen quick so even the most seasoned smokers should consider saving the cigarette for later.

6. Rubbernecking

Type: Visual

Rubbernecking, the act of staring at something of interest, is a human trait that is associated with curiosity. The most common form of rubbernecking is when a driver looks at a crash scene. While it’s natural to be curious, avoid giving in so you can divert all your attention to what is ahead of you.

7. Adjusting the Radio or Climate

Type: Manual, Visual

Always prioritize finding the right radio station and climate for your car prior to driving, if possible. If need to adjust the radio or climate, wait until you are at a full and complete stop.

8. Adjusting Car Controls

Type: Manual, Visual

Adjusting mirrors and checking lights should all be completed before you hit the road. Doing so will put you and your passengers in the best spot to prevent an accident.

9. Engaging with Other People in Your Car

Type: Cognitive, Visual

Carpooling is great for the environment but can impair your attention and driving abilities. When driving with company, prioritize everyone’s safety first by asking your passengers to avoid any heavy conversations or distracting behaviors.

10. Using a Device Brought into the Vehicle

Type: Manual, Visual

Fussing with headphones, a navigation device, or any other kind of device brought into your vehicle is distracted driving behavior. Get yourself geared up for your trip by setting up these items prior to putting your car in drive, otherwise, pull over to the side of the road if you need any adjustments.

Concluding Thoughts

The top 10 reasons for fatal distracted driving accidents may appear to be minor, but they can have severe consequences. Driving is the only thing you should be doing while operating a vehicle. Any distraction, or potential distraction, should be taken care of or set up prior to driving your car.


Samantha is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, with a degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Business Administration. She is passionate about safety and health and often works in conjunction with injury experts to help inform the online community about life-changing safety tips.

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