Williams, Walsh & O'Connor, LLC

13 common driving distractions, inside and outside the car

When you were young and riding around with your parents, maybe all you wanted was a distraction in the car. Car trips could be so boring — sometimes the trip felt like it would never end. You read books, listened to music and made up plenty of driving games to distract yourself and try to get through it.

Unfortunately, for many adults, that feeling doesn't really go away. It may for a short time, right after you get your license, since driving is new and exciting. Pretty quickly, though, the tedium returns. How many times can you make that same drive to work without feeling bored? You may find yourself looking for distractions all over again.

The risks are real

The problem with in-car distractions is that driving is still a very dangerous activity. Your car weighs thousands of pounds. It's traveling fast enough that you may only have a second to react to something ahead of you. If you don't react quickly enough, that combination of speed and weight is enough to cause serious injuries and death.

Your brain may still crave diversion when things are going right, but the same distraction can prove deadly when things go wrong.

Common driving distractions

Here are 13 common driving distractions that people face:

  1. Using cellphones
  2. Using a GPS system
  3. Looking at a previous accident or staring at something unusual
  4. Taking care of personal grooming behind the wheel
  5. Looking at road construction and equipment
  6. Reading maps, magazines, books, phones or other materials
  7. Talking to friends
  8. Interacting with (or disciplining) children
  9. Drinking (even when it's not alcohol) and eating
  10. Looking at road signs or places of interest
  11. Adjusting mirrors, seats or other controls in the car
  12. Adjusting the radio
  13. Dealing with pets

These common things can take your eyes and your mind off the road.

Can you avoid distractions?

It seems easy to avoid some distractions, while other temptations are much harder to avoid. You can turn your cellphone off when you drive, and you can leave home early enough to be tempted to multitask. You can set your destination on the GPS before you leave the house.

Many drivers do not understand these dangers and actively seek them out to pass the time. When this leads to an accident, those who get hurt may seek financial compensation for their injuries.

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