What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is the number one cause of car accidents in the United States. What is Distracted Driving, TJ Woods Insurance Agency, Worcester, MAAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 3,328 deaths and 421,000 accidents caused by distracted driving in 2012. With numbers so high, you have to wonder why drivers continue to take their attention away from the road. The truth is that people don’t understand exactly what distracted driving is, or they don’t understand the serious consequences of it.

Distracted driving is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from the road. If this activity causes you to take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off driving safely, then it’s considered highly dangerous to you and the drivers around you. People are faced with these distractions all day long, which means accidents can occur whenever you’re out on the road.


Texting and driving is known for being one of the most dangerous things to do behind the wheel because it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention. According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), a driver who is texting increases the risk of a crash or near-crash by 23 times than a non-distracted driver. Inexperienced drivers, such as teenagers and young adults, are the worst culprits. NHTSA reports found that 71 percent of teenagers and young adults say they have sent a text message while driving, while 78 percent said they have read a text message while driving.

While sending and/or reading a message seems like a quick task, it still has many dangerous consequences. According to VTTI, the average time a driver’s eyes are off the road to text is five seconds. While traveling at 55 mph, this time equals traveling the length of a football field without looking at the road.

Talking On a Cell Phone 

Having a conversation on the phone while driving is another extremely dangerous distraction. The use of cellphones has increased significantly over the past decade, which means that their use has increased while driving as well. During their study, VTTI found that dialing a cell phone increased the risk of a car accident or near car accident 2.8 times, while talking on a cellphone increased the risk of a car accident or near accident 1.3 times.

Despite popular belief, using a Bluetooth cellphone or headset is not necessarily safer than using a handheld device. While the driver’s hands are on the wheel and their eyes are on the road for a longer period of time, the conversation they’re having is still a cognitive distraction from the road.

Eating and Drinking

You may want to think before reaching for that coffee or eating that sandwich before lunch break is over. Eating and drinking may seem like a quick and harmless task while in the car, but it increases the risk of causing an accident too. The primary focus is on the food and drink and not on driving. This requires drivers to take their hands off the wheel and their mind off the road when they take a bite or a sip. According to the NHTSA, reaching for that object increases the risk of a car accident by 1.4 times.

Other Distractions

There are many other distractions to be aware of while driving. Talking to other passengers can take the driver’s mind off the road, while putting on makeup can cause them to lose focus of the road all together. Also, using electronic devices such as the radio, a GPS, or a MP3 player can all be dangerous distractions that can lead to an accident.

It is important to know what can distract you in the car and the risks associated with them. To make the road as safe as possible for you and for others, you’ll want to avoid any of the actions mentioned above. As long as you keep your attention on the road and practice safe driving, then the risk of getting in a car accident should be lower.

If you want to make sure you’re protected if an unfortunate accident does happen, TJ Woods Insurance would be happy to answer any of your questions and offer you competitive rates. Contact us to speak to one of our agents today.