Fleet Safety

What Are the Top Causes of Distracted Driving?

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April is distracted driving awareness month. This blog has discussed distracted driving particularly detailing the three types. To review, the three types of distraction on the road include: 

  • Visual distraction: taking your eyes off of the road
  • Manual distraction: taking your hands off of the wheel
  • Cognitive distraction: taking your mind off of driving

But what do these distractions look like in real life? Let’s break down the causes of distracted driving and what type of distraction they fall under. 

Top 7 Causes of Distracted Driving

No. 1: Talking and Texting. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that cell phone use is the top cause of distraction behind the wheel of a vehicle. The National Safety Council found that cell phone use behind the wheel increased by 127% between 2012 to 2021. Talking while driving is a manual and cognitive distraction. Texting while driving falls under all three categories. 

No. 2: GPS. GPS is a handy tool that most drivers use regularly. However, setting up your GPS route while driving can be a distraction. It’s just as dangerous as texting. It’s also dangerous to search around for your phone to look at your map. These can be manual, visual, and cognitive distractions, so you should always set up your GPS route before you get on the road, and mount your GPS where you can easily see it. Also, set up verbal directions so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road. 

No. 3: Music and Temperature Controls So many of us love to listen to music when we’re driving. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it can be a distraction if we mess with the radio while driving. It’s the same if we have to fiddle with the A/C or heater. These fall under manual, visual, and cognitive distractions. Make sure you set the temperature to your liking before getting on the road, and choose a playlist long enough for your trip that you will enjoy without having to change your music. 

No. 4: Applying Makeup. Very few people would admit to grooming or applying makeup behind the wheel, but many more people than you might think have done it. Drivers may attempt grooming tasks like combing hair, applying lipstick, or even putting on deodorant behind the wheel. These are manual distractions that cause significant risk. You can always bring your grooming supplies and do a quick touch- up at your stop, but– it’s better to arrive slightly disheveled than never to arrive at all.

No. 5: Talking to Passengers. Passengers can be immensely helpful with a lot of these distractions. They can adjust the temperature, look up GPS directions or handle the radio. They can send a quick text or answer a phone call for the driver. But they can also serve as distractions. 

Focusing on a conversation with your passenger while you lose focus on driving is, a cognitive distraction. If you turn to look at your passenger, that’s a visual distraction. Hold serious conversations until you reach your destination; your passengers would rather arrive safely, and so would you. 

No. 6: Children or Pets. Children or pets may fall under passengers, but these passengers are of particularly dangerous as they cause the most distraction. Every parent knows the struggle of driving with a fussy or impatient child. This can cause a cognitive distraction, and additional visual or manual distractions if you have to turn around and deal with them. It’s always best to pull over if you have to deal with children misbehaving in the back seat. Pets should always be securely restrained. Having them loose in the car can cause significant danger to yourself and your pet.

No. 7: Zoning Out. If you’ve ever been on a long drive, you might be guilty of this. It’s also a danger if you’re driving on a familiar route. People often call this driving on “autopilot,” and it’s a great danger. This is a cognitive distraction. You must always be using your full attention behind the wheel of your vehicle, even when you know the route by heart or feel that there is no danger. 

Eliminate Distracted Driving in Your Fleet

Fleet managers need to have a firm hand regarding distracted driving, but of course, you can’t be in the passenger seat of your vehicles. That’s where Azuga’s fleet tracking technology comes in handy. Our telematics solutions, dash cams, and other devices can help you feel secure knowing your drivers are exhibiting safe behaviors, without monitoring their every move yourself. To learn more about how it works, try a demo with one of our experts.