Date Published: 2023/12/15

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The dangers of distracted driving and how to stay focused on the road

A close-cropped photo of someone driving with their hand on the wheel, holding a coffee, with their phone in the other hand.

Distracted driving is a severe and widespread problem with potentially devastating consequences. Distracted drivers are eight times more likely to be involved in crashes or near-crash events than non-distracted drivers.1

In this article, we will explore some common causes of distracted driving and provide tips to prevent driving while distracted.

The #1 reason for distracted driving: Driver inattention

We live in a fast-paced, hyper-connected world where we often juggle multiple tasks and responsibilities. This on-the-go lifestyle can make us feel stressed, rushed or bored while driving, causing driver inattention by taking essential focus away from the road. These feelings can also tempt drivers to use their devices, take phone calls or do other things that distract them from the task of driving. However, any activity that takes your focus away from the road is considered distracted driving and puts yourself and others at risk of serious or fatal accidents.

Common causes of distracted driving

Common causes of distracted driving include:

1. Texting: Texting while driving is one of the most frequent and dangerous causes of distracted driving. Spending just five seconds reading a text while traveling at 90 km/h is equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.1 

Put your phone on silent mode before starting your vehicle. Only check for or respond to messages once you're safely parked. Many smartphones now allow you to enable a driving focus mode, which automatically sends a reply message to incoming calls or texts so you can focus on the road. 

2. Using devices: Using any device while driving, including smartphones, tablets, laptops or other electronic devices, is both risky and illegal. These devices require you to take your eyes and attention off the road, reducing your ability to respond to your surroundings safely. Wait until you're parked in a safe location before using any of your devices.

3. Talking on the phone: Taking a call while driving, even if using a hands-free device, is distracting because it requires you to split your attention between two tasks. Drivers are up to four times more likely to be involved in a collision while talking on the phone.1 If the call can't wait until you've reached your destination, find a safe spot to pull over and finish the call before you get back on the road.

4. Eating and drinking: Eating and drinking non-alcoholic beverages while driving are less obvious but still dangerous causes of distracted driving. These actions require you to take your hands off the wheel and your eyes off the road, which can lead to loss of control. They also bring further risk of distraction by potential spills, burns or a slippery steering wheel. If you're hungry or thirsty, take a break and find somewhere to enjoy your refreshments safely before hitting the road again.

5. Grooming: Applying makeup, brushing your hair or doing other personal care activities while behind the wheel are all dangerous behaviours. As a responsible driver, you must always pay full attention—even while stopped at a stop sign or red light. Attend to your personal care needs before leaving home or wait until you're safely parked at your destination.

6. Adjusting music or navigation systems: Changing radio stations, CDs, playlists, volume levels or setting directions on a GPS device are distracting activities—even if done hands-free. In fact, refocusing your attention on the road can take up to 27 seconds after making a voice command through a hands-free device.2 Plan your route ahead of time and set your music or navigation system before you start driving.

7. Attending to kids or pets: Traveling with children or pets in the car can affect your concentration while behind the wheel, especially if you need to attend to them while driving. Ensure children are properly seated in the correct car seat or booster seat, and pets are safely secured in a carrier, harness or car seat. If traveling with other passengers, ask them to attend to any little ones or furry friends in the vehicle so you can focus on driving. If you need to deal with an emergency, find a safe spot to pull over.

8. Grabbing items from the backseat: Reaching or looking for things behind you requires you to twist in your seat, taking your focus and gaze off the road and putting yourself and other road users at risk. Wait until you're safely parked at your destination to grab anything from the backseat.

Do your part to prevent distracted driving

Distracted driving is a preventable problem that requires your awareness and commitment. Despite the pressures of work and life, nothing is more important than your safety and the safety of others on the road. 

Distracted driving tickets are considered a major ticket and could result in a surcharge or premium increase. Avoid it at all costs and stay safe by keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.

If you're a current Orbit policyholder and have any questions about your car insurance coverage, call 877-976-7248 to review your policy or learn more about your coverage options.

If you're shopping for car insurance and would like to request a quote, contact an Orbit insurance broker at 877-976-7248.

  1. CAA 
  2. CTV News