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What Are the Top Driving Distractions?

Distractions while driving can lead to deadly car accidents. Paying attention to anything other than the road and the driving task can lead to a rear-end collision, pedestrian accident or other serious types of accidents. Distracted drivers cause hundreds of thousands of auto accidents in the US each year. In 2018, distracted drivers injured 400,000 victims and claimed 2,841 lives, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Many different types of driving distractions can pull a driver’s focus from the road. If you’ve been involved in an accident caused by distracted driving, contact a Richmond distracted driving attorney today.

causes of distracted driving


Texting and Driving

Using a cellphone behind the wheel is the number one type of driver distraction in Virginia. Cellphone use while driving has exploded in the last couple of decades, leading to thousands of fatal auto accidents annually. While any type of cellphone use can distract a driver, texting and driving is the most dangerous. Reading or writing a text message requires a driver’s visual, manual and cognitive attention. Looking at a cellphone to read a text could distract a driver enough to miss a changing roadway condition, such as a pedestrian crossing the road.


Despite knowing the risks of texting while driving, in 2017, an estimated 2.9% of all drivers in the US used handheld cellphones behind the wheel. Many drivers underestimate the risks of texting while driving. They believe they can safely multitask without causing accidents. Yet no driver can dedicate 100% of his or her attention to a cellphone and the road at the same time. Almost all 50 states have banned texting while driving to help reduce the number of distracted driving accidents.


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Getting lost in thought or daydreaming contributes to thousands of auto accidents every year. Many drivers do not realize that letting the mind wander is a type of distracted driving. They might think they are safe because their hands are on the wheel and their eyes are on the road. A cognitively distracted driver might not recognize or process changing road conditions as quickly as other drivers, however. Driving while thinking about a recent conversation, while upset about a fight, while thinking about work or school, or while daydreaming could interfere with a driver’s reaction times enough to cause a collision.


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Eating and Drinking

Trying to eat or drink behind the wheel could occupy a driver’s visual, manual and/or cognitive attention. Eating a hamburger while driving, for example, forces the driver to take at least one hand off of the wheel. Similarly, lifting a cup to drink could impede the driver’s vision long enough to cause a collision. Eating while driving could also pose hazards if something goes wrong. If toppings fall into the driver’s lap, for example, it could make the driver jerk the wheel and swerve into oncoming traffic. Drivers should eat before or after they drive, not during.


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In-Cab Distractions

The inside of a driver’s vehicle contains many potential distractions. It is the driver’s responsibility to avoid them. A driver should create rules for child passengers, for example, such as keeping chatter down and not asking the driver to reach for fallen items. Drivers should practice the functions of his or her vehicle, such as pressing buttons on an infotainment system or changing the radio station, before driving. Drivers should be able to adjust the temperature and radio without taking his or her eyes off the road. If using a cellphone or GPS to map a destination, a driver should set up the feature while safely parked.


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Out-of-Cab Distractions


Drivers should also be careful not to let things outside of their cabs present distractions. Looking at a billboard for too long, for example, could cause a driver to drift out of his or her lane or rear-end another driver. Construction projects, detours and car accidents can also provide out-of-cab driver distractions. Driving and multitasking do not mix. Drivers must dedicate all of their attention to the road to avoid accidents.

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