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Distracted Driving Safety Tips


WRITTEN BY: Julia Matseikovich

UPDATED: MAY 11, 2022 | 2 MIN READ

Distracted driving is extremely unsafe. It can cause pricey accidents that increase your insurance for years and even result in severe injury or death. Keep reading for distracted driving safety tips.

Distracted Driving Safety Tips: Quicklinks

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is operating a motor vehicle while doing another activity that diverts your attention from the road. For example: 

  • Texting
  • Eating
  • Grooming
  • Putting on make-up
  • Programming a GPS system
  • Adjusting music
  • Smoking
  • Interacting with passengers
  • Reading 
  • Watching TV

It’s common to see people doing something else while they drive, but just how dangerous is distracted driving?  In the U.S., in 2020, 3,142 people were killed in accidents involving distracted drivers. Unfortunately, 1 in 5 people who died in distracted driving crashes weren’t in a car — they were innocent pedestrians, skateboarders, or bike riders.

Why is distracted driving dangerous?

There is a reason distracted driving is illegal, and can result in tickets, fines, and suspension or loss of your license. Distracted driving is extremely unsafe because if you’re driving at 55 miles per hour and you take your eyes off the road for just five seconds, it’s as if you’ve driven the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. In order to drive safely, you need to give your full attention to the road. Otherwise, you’re putting yourself and everyone else on the road at risk.

Are cell phones really the main cause of distracted driving?

The invention of cell phones changed our world. Unfortunately, they distract drivers. But is cell phone use really the main cause of distracted driving? It’s more common than you would believe.

A 2019 survey of U.S. high school students found that 39% of them who drove in the past 30 days had texted or emailed while driving. In 2018, in a survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), only 37% of respondents reported never using their phones while driving. At any moment, 600,000 drivers are using a phone while driving.

Types of distracted driving

Here are the three main types of distracted driving:

  • Visual: When you take your eyes off the road.
  • Manual: When you take your hands off the wheel.
  • Cognitive: When you take your mind off the road

These may happen separately, or multiple may happen in one instance. Even if you appear to be paying attention, if your mind isn’t on the task of driving, then you’re driving distracted.

How Distracted Driving Impacts Car Insurance Rates

Due to a general increase in accidents caused by distracted driving and people filing more car insurance claims for it, insurers are paying more and more claims. Insurers then require drivers to pay higher premiums. This is due to the information from traffic violations and accidents. From 2011 to 2021, auto insurance premiums increased by 16%. 

Plus, if you’re caught by a cop driving distracted, you will likely get a ticket. Tickets cause insurance rate increases. Also, if you are in an accident due to distracted driving, your insurance rates will increase.

Can texting and driving affect your car insurance rates?

Overall, yes. Texting and driving increases your insurance rates in a variety of ways. From general increases from insurers to tickets and accident increases, texting and driving affects your auto insurance rates. Although you can’t control general increases, you can stop driving while distracted to prevent an increase in tickets and accidents.

Distracted Driving: Safety Tips

There is no way to drive distracted safely. Even small distractions that seem minor can cause the end of a life, including your own. There aren’t any tips to help you drive distracted safely.

Here are some of our tips to avoid distracted driving:

  • Mount your phone on the dash, so you won’t fiddle with it.
  • Turn your phone on airplane mode or “do not disturb” while you drive.
  • Avoid trying to discipline or tend to your children while driving.
  • If you have animals in the car, restrain them by keeping them leashed in the back seat or put them in their crate.

By setting up your driving environment, you can ensure your car remains distraction-free.

How risky is distracted driving?

Distracted driving is extremely risky to yourself and every other person and animal on or near the road. In 2018, distracted driving was a factor in 8% of fatal accidents and 15% of all accidents that caused an injury.  Distracted driving causes 58% of accidents that involve teen drivers.

Is it safe to talk on your cell phone while driving?

No, it’s not safe to talk on your cell phone while driving. For commercial drivers, text messaging increases the rate of crashes and near-crashes by 23 times. Unfortunately, among people who recognize that cellphone use while driving is unsafe, 36% of them admit to using their phone while driving in the previous month. 

You may think that driving while talking on the phone using BlueTooth is safer. However, the National Safety Council says that being on your phone while driving forces your brain to do two things at once, resulting in distracted driving. 

Distracted driving prevention

Here’s how to stop distracted driving:

  • Eat before you leave. Even if it’s just in the few moments you have while heading out to your car. Or save your food for your destination.
  • Adjust your mirrors, seats, headrests, and seatbelt before leaving. Make sure everything is comfortable for you, and that you can see everything before you leave.
  • Commit to driving, and focus solely on the road.
  • If another task comes up, pull over. Maybe even grab yourself a refreshing drink in the drive-through while you complete your task or phone call.
  • Silence your cell phone, or put it in airplane mode. That way, no callers or texters can distract you.
  • Make sure your GPS and music are set up beforehand, so you don’t have to fidget with it on the road.
  • If you have passengers, ask them to help and complete tasks while you focus on driving.

Distracted Driving FAQs

What are the four types of distracted driving?

Distracted drivers are more likely than not to be distracted by something that fits within these four categories:

  • Eating in the car
  • Talking to passengers
  • Using electronic devices
  • Grooming

What’s defined as distracted driving?

Distracted driving is doing anything else besides driving while you’re behind the wheel. 

What are the biggest driving distractions?

The biggest driving distractions are cellphones and other electronic devices, passengers, and food.

What are examples of distractions inside your car?

Another passenger or a pet is an example of a distraction in your car. Someone calling your cellphone or setting up your GPS while you’re driving are some other examples.

How can I reduce distracted driving?

You can reduce distracted driving by committing to driving, and pulling over if you do have to do anything else.

Make Sure Your Insurance Covers Distracted Drivers

Distracted driving should be prevented at all costs. However, emergencies do pop up, and we have no control over things other people do. If you want to be covered by a trustworthy insurance provider in any situation, check out these auto insurance policy options.

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