Distracted driving is a major safety concern on the roads today.

At The Wiser Driver Driving School, we are committed to promoting focused and responsible driving habits.

In this blog post, we will discuss common types of distractions and their serious consequences.

What are the Common Types of Distractions

Today’s roadways are filled with hazards, many of which stem from distracted driving. Understanding the main types of distractions can help you mitigate risks effectively.

Visual Distractions

Visual distractions are anything that take your eyes off the road. In 2021, distraction was a factor in 8% of fatal crashes, claiming 3,522 lives. Simply glancing at your phone can have severe consequences. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that texting while driving is like driving a football field blindfolded for five seconds at 55 mph. But phones aren’t the only culprits. Checking your GPS, adjusting the radio, or even looking at passengers can be just as dangerous. To counteract this, familiarize yourself with vehicle controls and your route prior to driving. Set your GPS and radio stations beforehand and keep all necessary items within easy reach so you don’t have to look away from the road.

Manual Distractions

Manual distractions involve taking your hands off the wheel, such as eating, drinking, or fiddling with the dashboard controls. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that behaviors like adjusting the stereo or taking just one hand off the wheel can sharply escalate the risk of a crash. According to research, dialing a phone can increase crash risk by 12.2 times. Secure loose items in your vehicle to eliminate unnecessary reaching. Complete all possible tasks before you start driving, including adjusting mirrors, setting the climate control, and donning sunglasses. If you must handle an item, stop the vehicle in a safe location before doing so.

Cognitive Distractions

Cognitive distractions are perhaps the trickiest, as they involve taking your mind off driving. Even a short lapse in attention can be fatal. This includes daydreaming, engaging in deep conversations with passengers, or dwelling on stressful thoughts. A staggering 37% of drivers admit to talking on the phone while driving, despite knowing the dangers. Teens are especially vulnerable, with studies showing they are more likely to get distracted by their peers. To minimize cognitive distractions, keep conversations light and avoid emotional topics. Employing passengers to assist with tasks such as navigation and handling cell phones can also keep your focus where it belongs – on the road.

Fact - Are You Driving Distracted?

Addressing these distractions can dramatically improve road safety. By understanding and eliminating them, we all contribute to a safer driving environment.

What is the Impact of Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving poses severe risks on the road, and understanding its impact can prompt safer driving habits.

Statistics on Accidents and Fatalities

Distracted driving claimed 3,522 lives in 2021 alone, accounting for 8% of all fatal crashes. This highlights the deadly consequences of even momentary lapses in attention. According to NHTSA, teens are particularly vulnerable, with 12% of young drivers involved in distraction-related crashes.

Economic Costs of Distracted Driving

The financial toll of distracted driving is staggering. Estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggest that crashes involving distracted drivers result in economic losses totaling around $40 billion annually. These costs include medical expenses, lost productivity, and property damage. For employers, distracted driving leads to higher insurance premiums and increased liability risks.

Real-Life Consequences

Case studies underline the devastating outcomes of distracted driving. For example, a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recounts how a teen in Texas lost control of his car while texting, causing a fatal collision that claimed four lives. Similarly, in California, a driver who was reaching for a dropped item caused a multi-car pileup that resulted in severe injuries and long-term disabilities for several individuals.

Are Teen Drivers Getting Distracted?

Understanding these real-life tragedies emphasizes the critical need to maintain focus while driving. By spreading awareness and adopting safer driving practices, we can reduce the occurrence of such preventable incidents. Each conscious effort to minimize distractions could mean the difference between life and death on the road. For more strategies on avoiding distractions, refer to these practical driving distraction tips.

How to Avoid Distractions

To reduce the chances of getting distracted while driving, adopting practical strategies is essential. Here are effective tips to keep your focus where it belongs: on the road.

Use Hands-Free Devices

Using hands-free devices can significantly decrease manual and cognitive distractions. According to AAA, 57% of drivers admitted to adjusting a GPS device while driving, which studies show is no less dangerous than texting and driving. Bluetooth headsets, in-car speakerphones, and voice-activated commands allow you to make calls or send texts without taking your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road. Many modern vehicles come equipped with these technologies, reducing the need to handle your phone. It’s a matter of making good use of them. Learn more.

Set Mobile Phones to Do Not Disturb Mode

One highly effective way to stay focused is by setting your mobile phone to Do Not Disturb mode before driving. This prevents notifications from interrupting your concentration. Enabling these features ensures you won’t be tempted to glance at your screen when you should be watching the road. Several smartphone models now offer driving modes that automatically silence calls, texts, and notifications while the vehicle is in motion.

Organize Vehicle Controls and Navigation

Before you start driving, take a few minutes to organize your vehicle controls. Adjust your seat, mirrors, and steering wheel to comfortable positions. Secure loose items to avoid the need to reach for them later. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash. Program your GPS and set your music or radio stations before you set off. Completing these tasks in advance means you can keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes forward, drastically reducing the risk of an accident. For more strategies on avoiding distractions, refer to these practical driving distraction tips.

Are Drivers Distracted by GPS?

By integrating these practices into your routine, you establish habits that significantly decrease distractions, making every drive safer.


Distracted driving remains a significant threat on the roads, contributing to thousands of fatalities and substantial economic costs every year. It’s vital to remain focused and eliminate any behaviors that take your eyes, hands, or mind off driving.

Fact - How Can You Minimize Driving Distractions?

Practical tips such as utilizing hands-free devices, setting your phone to Do Not Disturb mode, and organizing your vehicle controls before driving, can have a profound impact on road safety. By adopting these habits, you can greatly reduce the risk of a crash and contribute to a safer driving environment for everyone.

We at The Wiser Driver Driving School encourage all drivers to commit to distraction-free driving. By staying focused, you help ensure not only your safety but also the safety of others on the road. For comprehensive driver education that prioritizes safe and skilled driving, visit The Wiser Driver Driving School. Our programs are designed to boost your driving confidence and help you become a wiser, safer driver.