Common Types of Distracted Driver Behaviors

Common Types of Distracted Driver Behaviors
Car Accident |February 21st, 2021

Each year, over 400,000 people are injured in a car accident involving a distracted driver [1]. In fact, one study showed that 80% of at-fault drivers involved in vehicle accidents were distracted at least 3 seconds before the accident [2]. Believe it or not, most car accidents aren’t due to mechanical mistakes or driver error; they’re due to distractions. Operating a car requires your full-time attention, and any momentary distractions can quickly result in a catastrophic accident, especially when you’re moving fast.

To help you avoid distraction-related accidents, here are a few types of distracted driving behaviors you should avoid. If you were involved in an accident, there’s a good chance (based on statistics) that one of these distractions played a role.

Cellular Devices

The most common source of distracted drivers is cellular devices. In fact, texting alone overtakes all other forms of distracted driving, and one-quarter of high-school students admit to reading text while driving their car [3]. While glancing down at your phone to read a text may seem harmless, it takes the brain up to 13 seconds to refocus after glancing at a smartphone screen [4]. A lot can happen in 13 seconds. According to the National Safety Council, 1 in 4 car accidents are directly caused by texting while driving [5].

You should avoid answering any texts while driving. If you were involved in an accident with suspected texting involved, you should contact your car accident lawyer to discuss your options. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to leverage expert witnesses and cellular records to prove your case.

Vehicle Displays

Almost all modern vehicles of in-vehicle displays or touchscreen infotainment systems. In fact, some experts suggest that the average number of screens per car will increase to 12 in the next year [6]. While these vehicle displays are great for navigating and playing music, they can also be a major source of distraction for drivers. Studies suggest that it takes an average of 40 seconds for drivers to complete an action on these infotainment systems — which can have catastrophic consequences [7].

In general, it’s never a good idea to use your vehicle displays while driving. Always pull up navigation information before heading to your destination.


Being a parent is a full-time job, and that job doesn’t end when you start driving your car. Most parents wouldn’t dream of answering a text while driving with their children. Yet, many are willing to take their eyes off the road to attend to their children. This is a mistake. Some studies suggest that children are 12 times more distracting to drivers than mobile phones [8]. Of course, not attending to your child is easier said than done. Maternal and paternal instincts kick in fast, and it can feel impossible not to immediately respond to a crying or fussy child. Instead of attending to your child mid-drive, we recommend  trying the following:

  • Pass out snacks, tablets, and entertainment before hitting the road.
  • Attempt to teach your children about patience and safety during road trips.
  • Pull over to the side of the road if your child needs urgent attention.
  • Bring along another caretaker to attend to children during drives.


Nearly every truck stop has a tempting selection of fried foods and quick snacks, so it’s all-too-tempting to grab a bite and take it on the road with you. But you should think hard before you bite into that gas station taquito. According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), eating while driving increases your chance of an accident by 80% [9]. Every bite you take pulls your eyes away from the road for a few seconds, and that’s all it takes to get into a dangerous situation. In fact, that same NHTSA study showed that 65% of near-miss accidents are caused by eating. Next time you stop for food, pull over and finish your meal before you continue to your destination. It could save your life.

Grooming or Mirror Use

Virtually every car has a pull-down mirror on the driver’s side. While these mirrors are a great way to check for blemishes before heading off to that important meeting, they’re also a significant source of distracted driving. Some studies even suggest that applying makeup alone is responsible for over 500,000 car accidents annually [10]. But makeup isn’t the only culprit. Shaving, fixing your hair, and applying lip balm are all distracting, and they can all cause you to get into a serious accident.

Don’t groom yourself while driving. It’s dangerous, distracting, and could result in a serious accident. Instead, we recommend:

  • Applying makeup before pulling out of your driveway.
  • Shaving inside before making your way to the car.
  • Applying lip balm only while parked.
  • Pulling over to do any personal grooming in the car.

Daydreaming or Sleepiness

Believe it or not, 77% of car crashes happen within 10 miles of the driver’s home [11]. When we’re familiar with our surroundings, it’s easy to drift off and daydream. We’ve all been responsible for this at one point or another. Have you ever felt like you were driving on autopilot? Have you encountered a drive where you didn’t remember the trip once you pulled up to your destination? You weren’t fully engaged in your drive, and that can cause serious issues. Always pay attention when driving. If you feel yourself drifting off, remind yourself to stay alert and active. It could prevent an accident.

Adjusting Vehicle Settings

Modern cars are filled with adjustable settings. From seat adjustments to mirrors, buttons, and air conditioning vents, it’s easy to find things to adjust while on-the-road. But you should adamantly resist those temptations. Every adjustment requires you to take your hands off the steering wheel. That’s always a cause for concern. Instead, we recommend doing the following before putting your car into drive and pulling out of your driveway:

  • Adjusting your music settings
  • Ensuring that your temperature is adequate
  • Adjusting your seat
  • Fixing mirror angles

These are, by far, the most common types of vehicle adjustments. Taking care of them before you start driving will save you from making a risky mistake.

Get in Touch With a Car Accident Specialist

Were you in an accident involving a suspected distracted driver? We can help. At Alvendia, Kelly & Demarest, we have years of experience helping motorists involved in vehicle accidents. Contact us online or call us today at 504-200-0000 for a free consultation. We may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve.