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What Are the Most Common Distractions While Driving?

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January 14, 2024 Car Accidents

At some point or another, every driver engages in distracted driving. Regardless of age or driving skill, it can be difficult to successfully avoid distractions on the road. This is particularly true for overconfident drivers who habitually give in to distractions and engage in risky driving behaviors.

In cases of injury resulting from a distracted driving accident, a Denver car accident attorney can provide legal support for your case. Your lawyer investigates your claim and strives to demonstrate the other party’s wrongdoing to secure favorable compensation for you.

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Distracted Driving is a Significant Issue

What Are the Most Common Distractions While Driving

Distracted driving is not a new issue. Every year, numerous accidents occur as a result of distractions. In a recent year, distracted driving accidents in the U.S. killed over 3,000 individuals.

Several distractions can increase the likelihood of accidents. However, the development and popularity of smartphones in the last decade or so have further escalated the problem. Many states have implemented laws restricting or banning the use of cell phones while driving, but regardless, cell phone use has not decreased.

Unfortunately, driving distractions will likely remain an issue. It’s up to drivers to respect road rules and their fellow drivers enough to limit distractions and drive responsibly.

The Three Categories of Distracted Driving

A driving distraction takes your full attention away from the task of driving. Three categories of distracted driving are visual, manual, and cognitive. Any one type of distraction is enough to endanger drivers and others on the road, but engaging in more than one kind of distraction is a recipe for a car crash.

Visual Distractions

A visual distraction encompasses anything that diverts your eyes away from the road, potentially compromising your attention while driving.

Drivers learn from the start that they must always keep their eyes on the road. However, with the many visual distractions drivers encounter at any given time, avoiding taking your eyes off the road can be difficult, even for “one quick second.”

Many drivers fail to realize that even if you divert your eyes for half a second, many things can occur in that short time. Especially if someone is driving at high speeds, anything that can happen in a split second can have detrimental consequences.


Texting I Distracted Driving

Cell phone use is arguably the most common visual distraction while driving. Texting and driving is regularly a problem on today’s roads.

Texting is one of the biggest issues concerning cell phone use because reading and crafting texts can take your eyes completely off the road. On average, a person texting looks down at their phone for about four seconds. While that may not seem like time, a lot can happen in four seconds.

In just a few seconds, a person driving roughly 55 miles per hour will travel about the length of an entire football field. If you’ve ever been to a football game, that’s quite a long distance.

Many states now have laws regarding cell phone use. Cell phone use while driving can result in serious legal trouble, particularly if someone causes an accident that results in bodily injury or death.

Using the GPS

GPS I Distracted Driving

Gone are the days when someone had to use sites like Mapquest to plan their routes before hitting the road. Now, everyone has a GPS available at any time, right at their fingertips.

While the development of GPS in smartphones is a big win in certain respects, it has also created more chances for car accidents. Because drivers don’t need to plan their routes, they often turn to their GPSs mid-drive. This creates both visual and manual distractions when inputting the final destination manually.

Picking a Song or Podcast

Whether fiddling with the car radio or shuffling through favorite songs on phones or music devices, choosing in-vehicle entertainment can be distracting. Changing the song or station during a drive isn’t ideal, as it can cause a driver to take their eyes off the road for some time.

Driving in a silent vehicle isn’t appealing, but drivers should aim to pick their favorite playlist or podcast before their commute, not in the middle of their drive.

Looking in the Mirror

Every vehicle’s sun visor includes a mirror, providing convenience for quick access. However, drivers should refrain from using it during drives, as it can create a visual distraction, diverting attention from the road and potentially compromising safety.

Some drivers argue they can still see the road through their peripheral vision, as looking in the visor’s mirror keeps their heads up and eyes straight. However, some road dangers happen quickly; even peripheral vision isn’t enough to see them and avoid potential collisions.

Manual Distractions

Manual distractions involve taking a driver’s hands off the steering wheel. These distractions can require one or both of the driver’s hands.

Drivers receive one of their initial lessons: always keep both hands on the wheel. Instructors typically teach drivers to regard the steering wheel as a clock, advising them to keep their hands at the “ten and two” position. But as drivers become more comfortable with operating a vehicle, that lesson tends to be forgotten, and drivers feel more at ease driving with one (or no) hands.

Cell Phone Use

Cell phone use is particularly dangerous because it can be considered a visual and manual distraction. This is why texting and the use of cell phones lead to so many accidents.

A major problem, especially for younger generations, is taking photos or “selfies” while driving. This requires looking into the camera while finding the perfect angle with your phone. Taking any sort of photo should only be done while properly parked, never while operating a moving vehicle.

Eating and Drinking

Eating and Drinking I Distracted Driving

It’s not uncommon for drivers to eat and drink while behind the wheel. This is especially true when someone doesn’t have time to stop for a meal, runs late, or is on a long-distance drive.

Eating requires at least one hand, sometimes even two. Some drivers make it a habit to eat while driving, especially for breakfast and lunch, increasing the chances of causing an accident.


Grooming should always be done at home, not while driving a car. Still, when some people run behind schedule, especially in the mornings before work, they take their tools and use their visor’s mirror to finish the job.

Men are known to style their hair and shave, while women tend to do their hair and put on skincare products and makeup. Grooming can be chaotic, especially while trying to drive. It can entail visual and manual distractions that often result in serious collisions.

Reaching for Something

It happens to everyone: you lose something during your drive. If something falls on the floor or between your car seats, whether a cell phone or an earring, always wait until stopped before attempting to retrieve it.

Similarly, parents often reach for something for their kids or reach their arms in the back seat to comfort or scold children. Regardless of the situation, the safe thing to do is to pull over rather than take your hands off the wheel and attention off of driving.

Cognitive Distractions

Cognition has to do with mental processes. Therefore, a cognitive distraction takes your mind off the task at hand.

While many don’t believe so, driving requires all of your attention. Especially during heavy traffic or on hectic roads, drivers should give all their attention to their driving and keep an eye on others.


Everyone daydreams. It can easily get lost in thought at work, school, or staring out the window. While very normal, daydreaming while driving can be dangerous.

It happens when drivers get lost in their minds, and when they finally “come to,” they don’t even realize how far they’ve driven or how they got to where they got. If you start feeling yourself drifting off into a daydream, try to catch yourself before it becomes an issue.


Fatigue I Distracted Driving

Fatigue is a substantial problem behind the wheel. It should be common sense for drivers to avoid operating a vehicle while tired. Still, many individuals don’t realize the seriousness of the situation, which can lead to accidents on the road.

Feelings of tiredness can result from many things, from sleep deprivation or certain medical conditions and medications. Irrespective of the cause of the fatigue, someone feeling sleepy is more likely to doze off behind the wheel.

If you’ve ever heard a tired person say they “feel like they’re drunk,” it’s because fatigue has similar effects on the body as alcohol. Being awake for 17 hours is similar to having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05 percent, and for 24 hours is like having a BAC of .10 percent, which is above the legal limit in most states.

Sleepiness can impair vision, make it harder to make reasonable decisions, and weaken a person’s driving skills. Fatigued drivers should look for alternatives and avoid getting behind the wheel of a car.


Strong emotions can significantly affect a person’s ability to drive. When a driver is sad and crying or particularly angry, these feelings can take over, making it difficult to pay attention to the road and drive responsibly.

Additionally, individuals who are experiencing strong emotions are more likely to engage in aggressive or reckless driving. So, not only will the driver be distracted, but they’ll heighten their chances of causing a collision with their risky actions behind the wheel.


Conversation I Distracted Driving

There’s nothing wrong with talking while driving. However, depending on the subject, the conversation can get a little too interesting or heated, causing drivers to become distracted.

Conversations may either be with passengers in the vehicle or on the phone. Certain states don’t make cell phone use illegal if the person uses a hands-free device, like an earpiece or the vehicle’s Bluetooth, to talk on the phone. However, if a conversation demands excessive attention, having it after reaching your destination is preferable.

Distracted Driving Can Result in Dangerous Driving Behaviors

In a collision caused by distracted driving, the distraction is usually only the root problem. Unfortunately, distractions can also cause a driver to engage in risky driving behaviors.

When a driver isn’t completely paying attention or isn’t looking at the road, they’re more likely to take certain hazardous actions, such as:

  • Speeding
  • Following the vehicle in front too closely
  • Failing to yield to other drivers and pedestrians
  • Making unsafe lane changes
  • Veering outside their lane

It can be challenging to determine the exact cause of your distracted driving accident, especially when multiple factors played a role in your collision. This is one of the primary reasons to seek legal assistance from a qualified attorney.

Proving Fault in a Collision Caused by Distraction

Negligence typically causes a distracted driving accident. Therefore, you’ll need to prove the other driver’s negligence, which requires satisfying four elements:

  • Duty: The driver owed you a duty of care
  • Breach: The driver’s actions caused them to breach their duty of care
  • Causation: The driver’s actions caused your collision
  • Damages: You suffered injuries and losses as a result

Leveraging evidence is pivotal to substantiate and strengthen your claims. Common evidence in distracted driving accidents encompasses traffic camera footage, witness statements, and other supporting documentation.

Taking Legal Action for Your Distracted Driving Collision with the Help of a Qualified Attorney

Navigating distracted driving accident claims can be a complex journey when done alone. Do not navigate this challenging terrain alone if you suspect distractions contributed to your collision. Seek legal counsel from a proficient car accident attorney experienced in handling cases involving distracted driving. Their experience and knowledge play a significant role in strengthening your case and guaranteeing the protection of your rights throughout the legal process.

Car Accident Lawyer in Denver, Keith Fuicelli

Keith Fuicelli, Distracted Driving Accident Attorney

A lawyer can efficiently handle every critical aspect of your case, such as proving fault, meticulously calculating damages, and engaging in adept settlement negotiations, all geared toward helping you secure the best possible case result. A personal injury lawyer provides you with peace of mind and ensures that you have the best chance of receiving the financial recovery you rightfully deserve for your losses stemming from the accident.