What Do the Top 10 Causes of Distracted Driving Have in Common?


Distracted driving is rapidly growing to be the leading cause of car accident related injuries and deaths. Whether distracted by a cell phone or by something else, distracted drivers are deadly additions to the already dangerous roadways of America. A study of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System has revealed the top ten most common causes of distracted driving accidents.

These causes are:

  1. Becoming “lost in thought”: 62% of distracted driving fatalities are caused by a driver who is distracted by their own thoughts. Wandering minds can be easy to ignore, but the consequences of daydreaming can cause fatal accidents.
  2. Cell phone usage: 12% of all fatal distracted driving accidents involved a driver who was using their cell phone in some capacity, such as texting, calling, music, or navigation.
  3. An event outside the car: 7% of distracted driving accident deaths are caused by drivers looking at something outside the car, such as another accident, someone on the side of the road, or another car.
  4. Passengers: 5% of these accidents have been caused by a driver who was distracted by their own passengers. Whether they’re simply chatting with passengers or distracted by rowdy passengers, the other occupants of a car can lead to distraction.
  5. Reaching for objects: 2% of fatal distracted driving accidents involve a driver who was reaching for something inside their car, such as a cell phone or drink.
  6. Eating and drinking: Drive-throughs are popular but eating or drinking while driving is a key factor in 2% of distracted driving accidents that result in a death.
  7. Adjusting the radio or climate controls: These features make time on the road far more comfortable, but drivers who are distracted by them are involved in 2% of the fatal distracted driving accidents across the nation.
  8. Using vehicle controls: It seems that operating your car shouldn’t lead to distraction, but adjusting seatbelts or mirrors is a factor in 1% of distracted driving fatalities.
  9. Animals: Whether in the car or outside of it, animals are likely an under-reported cause of accidents. Insects, wildlife and strays, and pets in the vehicle contribute to 1% of the reported fatalities caused by distracted driving.
  10. Smoking: Before you reach for your cigarettes or e-cigarette, consider that 1% of fatal distracted driving accidents are caused by someone who is smoking, lighting up, or extinguishing a cigarette. That’s 1 out of 100 accidents.

What Do These Causes Have in Common?

The top causes of distracted driving accidents vary widely, but they all have one thing in common—complacency. When drivers grow complacent, it becomes far easier for them to become distracted. This is especially true on familiar drives or on longer drivers where there is less thought required to navigate. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t still a serious risk of an accident, however.

This common factor can be compounded by a number of other factors. Are you rushing to your next appointment, making a mental checklist for your grocery store trip afterward? Has work been rough lately, and your morning commute is filled with emails coming in, starting your workday before you ever arrive. Did you get enough sleep before setting off on your road trip, or are you relying on coffee to help keep you alert? Stress, fatigue, and frustration can make it that much easier to be distracted by other things, and take your attention off the road.

It’s worth remembering that you’re distracted as soon as your attention is off the road—not when your eyes leave the road. It can be possible to “zone out” and miss important clues that could have signaled a hazard had you been paying closer attention. Driving takes conscious effort, so try to ensure that you’re always ready for the drive.

Have you been injured in a distracted driving accident? Our Memphis car accident attorneys can help you handle the details of your claim today. Our team at Donati Law, PLLC prides ourselves on offering experienced, client-focused legal representation and personalized solutions for your needs. Schedule a consultation with our firm to get started on your claim.

Contact our offices today! Call (901) 209-5500.

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