Top Driving Distractions + How to Avoid Them

We’ve all been told distracted driving is dangerous, but engaging in it is easier than you might think. Here, we take a look at some of the top driving distractions and what you can do to stay safe.

What Is Distracted Driving? 

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as “anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.” Our minds often go straight to texting and driving, but mobile devices aren’t the only problem. Driver distractions include everything from talking with passengers to observing passing scenery.

While these distractions often seem harmless, the consequences can be severe. In 2020 alone, 3,142 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver. 

Stay Safe With These Distracted Driving Avoidance Tips

Don’t use your electronic devices

In many states, touching your phone while driving is illegal, and even if it’s not, you don’t want to take the risk. As the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) puts it, texting for five seconds while driving 55 mph is the same as driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. 

Ideally, keep your phone on do not disturb or turned off whenever you’re in the car. If you do need to touch your phone, whether to change the music, plug something into your navigation system, or respond to a text, it’s safer to park your car first. Better yet, get everything settled before you start driving. 

Eat and drink before you drive

Eating and drinking on the go seems convenient, but in reality, it can be as dangerous as other common driving distractions. Fill up before you hit the road or, if you really need to stop and eat, avoid the drive thru and opt for indoor dining. 

Be aware of cognitive distractions 

Cognitive distractions occur whenever something distracts your mind while driving, and it happens more than you think. Daydreaming, for example, feels harmless, but one study found it to be one of the biggest driving distractions. Other cognitive distractions include anything from reading a map to experiencing intense emotions. No matter the reason, if you ever find your mind wandering, pull over and get some fresh air until you’re able to focus again. 

Secure your pets properly

If you’re traveling with a furry, four-legged companion, make sure to secure them in the backseat before driving. You don’t want them roaming freely and potentially blocking your view or hitting the steering wheel. Plus, pets are much safer in the event of a crash when they’re secured in the backseat.

Be ready before you start the car

Whether you need to tie your tie, fix your hair, or touch up your makeup, make sure you get it done before you hit the road. Even if you’re at a stop light, fidgeting with your clothes or hair can put you and others in danger as you’re not fully focused on what’s happening around you. 

Limit passenger activity in the car

In many states, including Arizona, new teen drivers with less than six months of experience can only have one passenger in the vehicle. And that’s for good reason; passengers can be a distraction for drivers of all experience levels. While a quick chat is okay, keep your mind focused on the road by avoiding heated arguments or intense discussions. 

Want to learn more about how to drive without distraction? Our defensive driving and driver’s education courses give you the skills and confidence you need to stay safe behind the wheel. Contact us today and let’s find the right course for you.