Three Things That Surprisingly Make You a Distracted Driver

woman sits behind wheel in car and uses an electronic dashboard

Everybody knows that many car accidents result from distracted driving. What a lot of people don’t know is the unassuming triggers for such.

Yes, you’re driving yourself up for a tragedy when you pick up your phone and reply to a text, or gawk at something interesting on the road. But you could be equally distracted with these things, too.

Listening to music

In one study, researchers compared the performance of young people driving with their own playlist and those with only instrumental soundtrack in the background or no music at all. They found that drivers are more prone to errors and dangerous behaviors, including speeding and weaving across lanes, when they listen to their own music.

A notable observation is that people tend to play songs they know at a louder volume, which contributes to increased distraction. The theory is that people are less likely to drive safely when listening to music because they are not able to process visual information efficiently.

Other than the loud music, shuffling through your phone playlist can make you distracted, too. In the end, you might suffer a whiplash injury or a concussion. Layton, Utah-based safety specialists recommend keeping the volume down and keeping your eyes on the road while driving.

Eating or drinking

When you’re hurrying to your next meeting, but your tummy is already rumbling wild, you can’t help but do this. A burger on one hand, the other on the steering wheel. Then, you reach for your iced tea in the cup holder while you’re in a traffic stop.

It may seem like you’re doing fine. In fact, you probably have done this many times. But the thing is, you’re still not a hundred percent focused on the road. Who knows what you will unintentionally do when you drop a ketchup on your jeans or leave a smear of chocolate on your steering wheel?

However you look at it, drinking or eating while driving carries a risk of running into an accident. So, avoid it at all costs. Besides, you’re not getting to your destination any faster when you’re multitasking. Pull over to the side. Finish your meal. Then, focus on the road.

Dealing with kids

kids seating at the backseat of a car

One study shows that kids at the backseat are 12 times more distracting than talking on the phone. There’s so much to deal with when you’re mediating sibling fights, calming a jittery baby, opening snack wrappers, and answering non-stop questions. You’re not aware that you could be spending five to 10 seconds of your eyes off the road.

The ideal scenario is to have an adult, say, your spouse, to deal with such. If you don’t have anyone with you on trips or your kids are still young, the best thing to do is to stop on the side of the road and fix what’s needed to be fixed.

It’s not just your phone that’s making your mind wander while driving. Beware of these unassuming triggers, too. Keep your eyes and focus on the road.