Distractions when driving – Distracted drivers caused accidents

Distractions When Driving

Distractions when driving are all too common and distracted drivers can cause fatal accidents. With  1752 fatalities on Britain’s Roads in 2015, we look to investigate if distractions when driving are contributory factors. You might be surprised at the statistics in this article. We were shocked at how common and how dangerous distractions when driving are.

Distracted driving is usually divided into three components:

Visual – Distractions that cause drivers to take their eyes off the road.

Manual – Distractions that cause drivers to take their hands off of the wheel.

Cognitive – Distractions the cause drivers to divert their attention from the road.

Statistics show that up to 72% of drivers in the UK have admitted to multi-tasking whilst at the wheel. This dangerously high level of distracted drivers causes countless road accidents every year, often leading to serious injuries and fatalities

Most common driving distractions

Mobile Phone Use:

Mobile phones are like an extension of our bodies in this modern age. I don’t know about you, but I feel lost if I don’t have my mobile phone with me. This trend will only worsen with next generations being exposed to mobile phones at a younger age. The advancements in mobile phone technology will also make them even more of a requirement for modern life. For this reason, mobile phones are the top of our common distractions when driving list. I don’t just mean for phone calls either. 58% of 17-25-year-olds believe that smartphone apps are causing young people to be more distracted behind the wheel according to Ingenie.

Stats about Mobile Phone Use While Driving:

  • 1 in 6 male drivers under the age of 25 have crashed as a result of mobile phone usage behind the wheel.
  • One third of under 25’s with Facebook installed on their phone have admitted to using the app while driving.
  • 62% of surveyed young drivers admitted to reading a text while behind the wheel.
  • 44% admitted to sending a text while behind the wheel.

And possibly the most shocking…… 18% of drivers with the game ‘Draw Something‘ installed on their phone admitted to playing it while driving!

Smoking behind the wheel

This one isn’t something you’d imagine to be a huge distraction. However when you consider the process of rummaging through a handbag or rucksack to find a packet of cigarettes, then finding the lighter, then lighting the cigarette and opening the window it becomes clearer as to why approximately 1% of road traffic accidents are because the driver was smoking.

Being lost or unfamiliar with the road

Hailed as being one of the most common reasons a driver could be distracted. Being lost doesn’t sound like it should be high up on the list of driver distractions. But once you think back to a scenario when you’ve been trying to find your way to an unfamiliar destination you will see why. You’ll likely remember frantically staring at road signs or making swift turns into the road. A Sat Nav can help to eliminate the ‘panic factor’ when it comes to taking a wrong turn or getting lost. If you are unfamiliar with the road it’s important to stay alerted and aware.


We as humans can find it very hard to concentrate for prolonged periods of time. I love a good old daydream as much as the next person. I’m also guilty of that feeling of arriving at my destination but not really remembering much of the drive because I was lost in thought. Anyone else do this? It’s quite freaky really. I can definitely see why it is advised that during long journeys the driver takes regular breaks. This gives you a chance to break concentration safely, rest your eyes and generally wake up a bit before proceeding.

This article about how to combat tiredness on long journeys has some excellent tips to keep you alert.

Incidents outside of the car

We’re not suggesting that you spend your time gawking at people out of the window while driving often…… but on the odd occasion, something outside of the car catches your eye (wink, wink) this is thought to be a bigger distraction than a rowdy passenger. Equally, accidents on the other side of the road can be a big distraction for road users and cause further incidents. This is why you often find on traffic reports that there are two incidents close to each other. The second is caused by people being distracted by the first one. What a mess!

Who is most likely to be distracted while driving?

Anyone can be distracted while behind the wheel. Statistically, only 1.5 percent of drivers are aged 17 to 19. However, serious or fatal crashes where the driver is aged 17 to 19 tolls up to 9 percent of all UK crashes. So young people are more likely to be distracted when driving. Also, business people who drive as part of their job.

Top Tips to Stay Focused On The Road

  1. Keep your mobile phone in the glove compartment or the boot and connect it via Bluetooth if you’re expecting an important call. This will eliminate the distraction and the temptation to pick it up while you’re behind the wheel.
  2. Take regular breaks. You should take a 15-20 minute break for every two hours you are driving for. If you are feeling drowsy be sure to take extra breaks.
  3. Ask passengers to respect your need to concentrate on driving by keeping calm and quiet. Rowdy passengers can be really distracting.
  4. Avoid eating and drinking behind the wheel. I know it’s hard when time is limited. But finishing your breakfast on the way to work can be hazardous. Spilling food or drink and trying to clean it up while driving is the cause of several road accidents because the driver was distracted.
  5. Use your time in your vehicle just for driving. It can be tempting on long journeys to use the time to multi-task. However calling your friends, checking your emails, applying your make-up or even making work calls isn’t a sensible decision while trying to drive. Avoid distractions and temptation by putting everything out of reach from you in the driver’s seat. This will eliminate distraction and ensure you concentrate on the road.

How else can we minimise distractions on the road?

The common denominator when talking about distracted drivers are people. The human error and our inherent inability to concentrate fully on one task for a prolonged period of time are very apparent. So to really minimise distractions while driving you need to remove people from the driving. This is where futuristic driverless cars are set to reduce fatalities on the roads dramatically.

This article about driverless cars goes into more detail about the new technology.

What do you think? Will driverless cars reduce the number of accidents on the roads? Would you want to relinquish your driving over to a machine?

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