What Are the Most Common Driving Distractions?

Posted on: September 8, 2022

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2020, distracted driving was a factor in about eight percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents. Approximately 20 percent of car accident injuries are caused by distracted driving. Distracted driving is a widespread problem and leads to many car accidents every year in the United States.

All drivers can benefit from trying to avoid distractions when behind the wheel. How many times have you seen someone driving too slowly before you pulled up alongside them to see that they are talking on the phone or texting? Before judging them too quickly, it is wise to think about how often you might have been doing the same exact thing. Even if you are vigilant about not texting and driving, there are many other distractions out there. Some of the most common driving distractions are listed below.

Electronic Devices

Anytime you use your cellphone or GPS while driving, it takes your focus away from the road. Making calls, answering calls, texting, sending emails, and looking at the GPS are all necessary in emergencies, but doing any of these while driving could cost you your life or injure another person. Using Bluetooth or a hands-free device is a better choice, however, communicating with others takes your attention away from the road and should be avoided.

A GPS can be helpful but also frustrating when it sends you the wrong way or into a major traffic jam. You may feel frustrated by your GPS device, and this can be distracting, but the safest thing to do in this situation is to pull into a parking lot to reprogram it. Also, remember that the important call, email, or text you are concerned about can always wait until later. If you are concerned about something that truly cannot wait, pull over to somewhere safe and quickly make the call.

Emailing, texting, and using a GPS with your hands are probably the most dangerous driving distractions because not only do they take your eyes from the road, they require you to use your hands and your brain. This is why texting and driving is illegal in New Jersey. However, it is still a major and common threat.

Grooming and Eating

Some drivers apply makeup or even shave behind the wheel. While grooming is important, it should be done well before you get into the car. Getting up and ready earlier in the morning can help prevent you from grooming in the car. Try to set your alarm earlier so you are not rushing.

Additionally, many drivers attempt to change their clothing while driving, which can be very dangerous. It only takes a few minutes to get changed in normal circumstances, so hold off on putting on clothes until it is safe. Remember, the time saved by eating or grooming while driving is just not worth a life.

Having a snack while driving can be okay if it is done with care. Eating something like an apple while staying focused on the road is usually safe, but using two hands to eat a sandwich or digging into a bag of chips is not. Anything that could spill, like a bowl of cereal or even a bowl of spaghetti, should definitely stay in the fridge until you get back home. While there is no specific law that says you cannot eat in your car, you should still avoid doing so if possible. Eating while driving is distracting and dangerous.

Rowdy Passengers and Pets

Passengers and pets can be distracting as well. If someone is talking to you, try not to turn to look at them, especially if they are in the back seat. This can be very difficult when you have small children, though. Always have items in the car to keep them busy, like soft books and toys and music. Anything that can be thrown and cause injuries should be stored away.

If the children are crying or fighting, the smart thing to do is to pull over to somewhere safe to handle it. The same thing goes for pets. If they have needs that must be taken care of, stop the car and help them out.

Car Settings

Adjusting the cars climate controls or other settings can also take your eyes, hands, and mind off the road. Modern vehicles have voice controls for most of these things, but if yours does not, set the settings before you leave the house. Only make changes when you are stopped.


Daydreaming is another common distraction. Everyone zones out from time to time, and this can cause them to get into accidents. This can happen whether you are wide awake or fatigued, and it is a good idea to try to be aware of it.

Roadside Distractions

Other common distractions include rubbernecking to look at accidents or other things on the road, like construction work, other drivers, or holiday decorations. You should always focus on driving.

Monmouth County Car Accident Lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova Can Help You if You Have Been Injured by a Distracted Driver

If you have been involved in an accident because of a distracted driver, you may have serious injuries, costly medical expenses, and more. Speak with one of our Monmouth County car accident lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova today for legal help. Call us at 732-705-3363 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Hazlet and Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in Ocean County, Sussex County, Neptune, Middlesex County, and Pennsylvania.