Common Causes of Distracted Driving that Result in Collisions

The most common causes of head-on and roll-over collisions in Florida are speeding, right-of-way rules violations, bad weather, animals, drunk driving, failure to observe traffic signs and signals, falling asleep behind the wheel, improper turns, and distracted driving.

 The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), in honor of Distracted Driving Month in April, released statistics that showed that 2017 was the worst year yet as far as distracted driving was concerned. More than 50,000 accidents were as a result of driver inattention. Below are the most common causes of distracted driving. 

  1. Cellphone use

 According to FHP Captain Tom Pikul, most distracted driving crashes are caused by young adults aged between 20 and 29 and are linked to technology use. Although text driving is a secondary offense and a police officer cannot pull you over unless he/she cites another driving offence, it tops the list of distracted driving causes. Wait until you reach your destination to text or text back.

 Driving and talking can also distract the driver, but it is also not a primary offence is Florida, at least not yet. Consider using hands-free phones to avoid distracted driving. Most modern vehicles allow for hands-free phone use. 

  1. A wandering mind

 A wandering mind, taking your focus off the road, is another leading cause of distracted driving. This is, however, also the hardest problem to rectify. You could reduce instances of a wandering mind by ensuring you get enough sleep before a drive, taking frequent breaks during a long drive, and taking turns driving to avoid fatigue. 

  1. Outside distractions

 Outside distractions such as paying more attention to something or someone outside the car (often referred to as “rubbernecking) can cause you to miss a stop sign or a vehicle slowing in front of you. Even a quick 1-second gaze can lead to a collision. To avoid this, pull over or slow down whenever something unavoidably catches your eye. 

  1. Other occupants

 Arguing with, looking at, or talking to a passenger can lead to distraction. Although driving with a passenger is advisable in long trips to prevent boredom and eventual wandering of the mind, overly engaging with passengers should be avoided. 

  1. Eating, drinking, and smoking

 Eating or drinking while driving not only leads to distraction, but it also makes the vehicle more difficult to control even when you are not distracted. The smart thing is to pull over whenever you want a bite or a drink.

 Lighting a cigarette, smoking it, and putting it out while driving can reduce your concentration on the road. 

  1. Adjusting vehicle controls

 According to a University of Utah study on multitasking, 97% of people cannot complete two tasks at once without substantial loss in task performance. Adjusting vehicle controls such as the AC and the radio take your eyes off the road and can lead to a collision. Adjusting mirrors and seatbelts can also lead to distraction-related collisions. 

  1. Reading Maps

 Florida receives millions of visitors each year. Some visitors who do not have GPS may be forced to read maps whenever they are in unfamiliar areas. According to the American Automobile Association, this leads to taking eyes off the road for more than 2 seconds and it doubles the risk of crashing.