Driving distractions and how to avoid them
Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous driving distractions, but here are some others.
Distracted driving statistics
In early 2023, State Farm® performed a survey of drivers and found that drivers licensed less than 5 years were more likely to interact with their cell phones while driving.
Did you know texting is not the only driving distraction?
In 2021, 3,522 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous driver distractions, but it's not the only one.
Driving distractions to avoid
- Texting. In nearly every state, texting while driving is against the law for all drivers. Reading or sending text messages can wait until you reach your destination.
- Grooming. Pressed for time, some people conduct grooming activities in the car, such as putting on makeup or using an electric shaver. Do yourself and other drivers a favor by completing your morning routine at home.
- Eating and drinking. Your steaming cup of coffee could spill, or ingredients might slip out of your sandwich — any number of distractions can arise when you drive and dine. Stay safer by saving the refreshments until you're parked.
- Monitoring passengers. Attending to children in the back seat can be a distraction, especially toddlers. Drive Safely reports that parents of toddlers are 40% more likely to manage toys or toddler electronics while driving. And 80% of parents admit to giving their toddler a drink, along with 78% who provide snacks. Also, having a pet in your lap can interfere with safe driving.
- Rubbernecking. Slowing down to look at a traffic collision could cause a crash of your own. The same thing goes for lengthy looks at billboards, a street address or a great mountain view.
- Listening to music and infotainment systems. Playing your radio at a high volume or wearing headphones can take your focus away from the road. These distractions reduce the likelihood you'll hear car horns, emergency vehicles or other key noises. Similarly, with cars getting smarter, DVD players in the back and other passenger devices, there are more distracting sounds than ever before that may be coming from various parts of the car.
- Watching or recording videos. Watching or recording a video while driving takes your eyes off the road. Wait until you’ve reached your destination to view or record videos.
- Daydreaming. If you've ever realized you just missed an exit because you weren't paying attention, you've experienced a common distraction: daydreaming. Resist the urge to drift off while driving and keep your attention on the road. Try varying your typical driving route — a change in scenery and traffic conditions could help you stay alert.
- Nodding off. According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, an estimated 60% of Americans have admitted to driving while drowsy, and 25% have nodded off behind the wheel. If you feel sleepy, pull over. Find a safe place where you can walk around to rouse yourself, switch drivers or nap before you resume driving.
As part of National Distracted Driving month in April 2021, SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and a few of our State Farm agents recorded safe driving videos. These tips can help assist teens in making informed decisions before and during their time behind the wheel. Take a look at the videos:
Driving distractions for commercial fleet vehicle drivers to avoid
- Texting. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration prohibits texting by drivers while operating a commercial motor vehicle.
- Outside distractions. Try not to let your focus drift to things outside of your vehicle, such as billboards or other people.
- Communication devices. While these systems can help drivers communicate and navigate, they can be dangerous while your vehicle is in motion. Using radios or other communication systems while driving takes your eyes and hands away from the road, increasing your risk of a collision.
- Holding or reading maps. While reviewing your directions and notes is important for a smooth trip, save it for when you are at a rest stop. Do not risk taking your focus off the road by reaching for your map and reading it. While GPS systems are generally considered safer, do not try to input information in the GPS while driving.
- Eating. Eating and drinking while driving takes your eyes and hands off the wheel, which is dangerous for you and the drivers around you. Take a minute to safely enjoy your meal while stopped.
- Fatigue. Drivers should adhere to their company's specific guidelines as well as state and/or Department of Transportation regulations regarding the maximum number of hours to operate a vehicle. This could help you avoid becoming fatigued and more susceptible to being involved in a crash.
Stay safe behind the wheel with more safe driving tips from State Farm.