If you are like most adults, when you hear the phrase distracted driving, the first thing you picture is probably somebody typing away a text message on their phone. While it is true that cellphones are among the top causes of distraction in a vehicle, they are far from the only cause and definitely are not the most common cause of distracted driving.
Committing yourself to not using your cellphone or other mobile devices while driving is an important step toward improved safety. After all, phones are the second leading cause of driver distraction, accounting for about 12% of all distraction-related wrecks. However, you could still find yourself falling victim to other common forms of distraction at the wheel.
You are your own greatest source of distraction
As surprised as most people are to learn this fact, the vast majority of distracted driving crashes don’t involve outside influence at all. According to an analysis of crash data, roughly 62% of all distracted driving crashes involve internal distraction, also commonly referred to as daydreaming.
If you spend time in your vehicle thinking about dinner after work or even just engaging in a little old-fashioned escapism, your mental distraction could leave you so unaware that you could potentially cause a crash without anything else contributing to your distraction level.
Rubbernecking isn’t just annoying for those behind you
There are plenty of things screaming for your attention when you drive. From the panhandler on the corner to the billboard over the exit, there are many things you could focus on instead of driving because they pique your curiosity. Looking at things, people or events outside of your vehicle leads to another 7% of distracted-driving crashes.
Conversations with other people are a major risk
Whether you are talking on your phone or to your child in the backseat, intense conversations can take your mind off of the task at hand. If the person is physically in your vehicle, you may also feel compelled to either meet their eyes in the rearview mirror or occasionally turn to look at them.
While a daily commute without any kind of communication may be dull, intense conversations are better saved for when you arrive at your destination safely. Occupant-related distraction causes another 5% of distraction-related collisions.