10 Dangerous Distracted Driving Habits

March 2017

Distracted driving is defined as driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving. Distracted driving can be visual (taking your eyes off the road), manual (taking your hands off the wheel), and/or cognitive (taking your mind off driving). Passengers, pedestrians, and other motorists are endangered by distracted drivers.

Distracted driving can be attributed to a number of factors. Here are ten dangerous distractions that every driver should avoid.

  1. Smoking
    Smoking while driving can be very distracting, as it requires you to remove one or both hands from the steering wheel to light a cigarette and hold it for an extended period of time.
  2. Reaching for Moving Objects
    Reaching for moving objects such as pets or children can cause driver distraction. Drivers should make sure children remain in their seats and have their safety belts securely fastened. Teach your children the importance of not distracting you while driving. Provide them with toys and books to keep them occupied. Pets should be kept in carriers or in seat restraints.
  3. Adjusting Controls
    Adjusting controls, such as temperature controls, radio, etc. accounts for wrecks caused by distracted driving. It is important to ensure these controls are set before driving. Although some features may not be possible to set ahead of time, such as cruise control or windshield wipers, drivers should be aware of their surroundings and be as focused as possible. If you are driving a rental car or borrowing a friend’s car, familiarize yourself with the car’s controls before you drive.
  4. Eating and Drinking
    Drivers should stop if they need to eat or drink. Eating often involves both hands when you, for example, remove a wrapper or eat something such as a sandwich. Even when stopping for coffee, it is important to either wait until arriving at a destination to drink it or drink the beverage before pulling out of the parking lot.
  5. Searching for Lost Items
    Searching for lost items such as maps, electronic devices, etc. distracts drivers as they take their eyes of the road and reach to grab an item. Drivers should pull over to a safe area and stop before searching for any items in the vehicle.
  6. Passengers
    Drivers are often distracted by talking with their passengers while on the road. Although it is unrealistic not to converse with friends while driving, it is important to stay focused on the road and surroundings at all times.
  7. Outside Event
    Almost every person has seen a distracting billboard, crash, or other event outside. Many people crane their necks or slow down to look. Drivers should always avoid slowing down for outside distractions as this can also cause an accident.
  8. Cell Phones
    This is usually the most talked about source of distracted driving. Talking, texting, or reading cell phones while driving are all causes of automobile accidents. In several states, it is illegal to text or even use a handheld mobile phone while driving. To avoid the temptation, consider installing special software to disable the phone while the vehicle is moving. Enforce a strict “no cell phone” policy with teenage drivers.
  9. Lost In Thought
    There are endless things a person could possibly be thinking about while driving. Whether a driver is looking for an address, focusing on the radio, or daydreaming, accidents occur due to general distractions. It is important to stay mentally focused at all times.
  10. Applying Makeup
    Makeup should never be deadly. Avoid applying makeup or fix your hair while driving.


Avoiding harmful driving practices is a good way to not only stay alive on the road but also to keep insurance rates lower. To enjoy the lowest possible rate, drivers need to consistently maintain a record that is free of negligent accidents. It is also important to stay focused, pay attention, and always expect the unexpected. Even though you are practicing good driving habits, others may not be. Always be on the lookout for distracted drivers in other vehicles.

To learn more about distracted driving, talk to your insurance agent.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Network of Employers for Traffic Safety

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