What are the Most Common Ways People Drive Distracted?

As we’ve discussed on this blog before, distracted driving is an incredibly dangerous behavior that is responsible for many traffic accidents and fatalities each year. When people talk about distracted driving, they’re typically referring to texting and driving, although distracted driving is broadly defined as any activity undertaken while driving that takes a driver’s attention off the road. This means that on top of texting while driving, distracted driving encompasses activities such as changing the music in the car, adjusting the GPS, applying makeup, and even just zoning out or talking to passengers. Because there are so many potential distractions for drivers, we thought it’d be helpful to go over some of the most common forms of distracted driving so that responsible drivers know which practices they should be avoiding.

Texting and Driving

The reason that most people generally use the term “distracted driving” to mean texting while driving is because, in addition to being among the most common, texting while driving is also one of the most dangerous ways that people drive distracted. For this reason, lawmakers around the country are introducing penalties for drivers who are caught texting while driving. Additionally, Google and Apple have introduced “Do Not Disturb While Driving” modes on recent versions of their smart phone operating systems. Unfortunately, the problem of texting while driving is too great for lawmakers and phone manufacturers to solve alone. According to a survey by Consumer Reports in October of 2017, 41 percent of drivers with smartphones said they had texted while driving. Couple this with the fact that traffic fatalities increased by 5.6 percent from 2015 to 2016, and had increased from 8.4 percent from 2014 to 2015, and the danger becomes clear.


Multiple studies have been conducted to determine the effect that music has on driving. One study suggested that music the driver likes is more distracting than music they aren’t familiar with. The researchers speculated that drivers listen more actively to music they like which caused them to pay less attention to their driving. Another study, of older drivers this time, determined that music increased the drivers’ ability to concentrate. A third study found that the volume of the music was correlated to the drivers’ distraction. In other words, the louder the music, the slower drivers were able to make decisions. Another study determined that it’s the search for music on a phone or MP3 player which lead drivers to be distracted the most.

Eating and Applying Makeup

Sometimes, when a person is running behind, they are tempted to finish applying makeup or other parts of their grooming process in the car as they drive. As with any activity that requires hands, eyes, and attention, it’s best not to do this while behind the wheel. This goes for eating, too. Two percent of distracted drivers were eating or drinking when a fatal crash occurred. Activities such as eating and applying makeup are best done before getting behind the wheel of a car.  


Although incredibly common, many drivers become distracted by conversations they’re having with passengers in their vehicle. Additionally, many of the laws introduced to curtail distracted driving attempt to do so by outlawing texting or holding the phone while talking. Drivers still frequently have conversations on the phone while they’re driving, simply moving to a hands-free headset or speakerphone. Even though these practices are allowed by law, phone conversations can still be a major distraction for drivers. Safe drivers should make sure to keep their attention focused on the road and avoid unnecessary or distracting conversations.

Contact an Attorney

If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto accident with a distracted driver in Oregon, don’t hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield. With over 70 collective years of legal and trial experience, we can answer any questions you may have in a free consultation. Distracted driving is incredibly dangerous, and irresponsible drivers must be held accountable. 

Call us at 1.877.928.9147 For A Free Consultation!

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