What Causes Drivers To Stop Paying Attention To The Road

There’s an offense almost every driver is guilty of committing at least once in their lives.

What Causes Drivers To Stop Paying Attention To The Road
Photo by Samuele Errico Piccarini on Unsplash

We’re talking about distracted driving, and even taking your eyes off the road for a split second counts as distracted driving. In fact, statistics on distracted driving crashes indicate this behavior is on the rise. So, what’s causing drivers to stop paying attention?

There are multiple reasons why drivers’ eyes and minds are wandering. Some you may even be guilty of while others may surprise you. Here’s a look at some of the common causes of distracted driving in the U.S.

Common Causes of Distracted Driving

States and even the federal government recognize that distracted driving is a dangerous problem. Various laws at the state and federal levels are in place to help curb the behavior. Some municipalities have even taken matters into their own hands, enacting laws and regulations.

A common law is prohibiting cell phone use in a school zone—this is a nationwide law and there aren’t any exceptions. Some states and municipalities also prohibit cell phone use near a school bus. Don’t worry; you don’t have to drop your phone every time you see a school bus. The law only applies to buses actively picking up and dropping off students.

In other words, if the school bus is parked and the flashing lights aren’t on, you can legally pull over and use your mobile device. So, by now you probably have a pretty good idea that a common cause of distracted driving is cell phone use. This includes texting, talking, and using a mobile app. So, what are the other common causes?

Passenger Distractions

Whether your passengers are friends, family, or both, you’re glad to have their company. Passengers can make long car rides a little less boring. You also have another pair of hands to tackle mundane tasks like finding a decent radio station or handing over a bottle of water.

If your phone starts making noise, your passenger can handle the call or text. Even a hands-free device, while legal, can still be a distraction. A quick side note on the legality of hands-free devices. Laws can vary by state and even municipality, so it’s best to check local ordinances before using a hands-free device while driving.

Regardless of how helpful or entertaining your passengers may be, they can still be a distraction. From pointing out something of interest to simply carrying on a conversation, your attention can easily stray from the road to your passengers. Even glancing away from the road for a second can result in an accident.

Bringing Pets Along for the Ride

Animal lovers get this; you want to take your furry companions with you everywhere. When bring your dog to work day comes around you’re definitely in and looking forward to your coworkers meeting your favorite family member. Regardless of whether you’re heading to work, the vet, the dog park, or someone’s house, your pet can easily become a potentially dangerous distraction. 

Some animals aren’t on their best behavior in a moving vehicle. They may have the best training but forget everything the minute the engine turns over. Even well-behaved pets can forget their training if something excites them. Now your furry friend is making noise and bouncing around from the front to the back seat.

If this doesn’t distract you, congratulations! This probably means you don’t need to worry about becoming a distracted driving statistic. However, since most drivers are going to pay attention to their pet’s antics, you’ll want to take steps to minimize any possible distractions, and this can involve creating your pet. 

If a crate isn’t an option, consider purchasing a leash and harness. Did you know you can find pet harnesses designed specifically for vehicle rides? You can use the vehicle’s seat belt system with the harness. Now your pet is secure, and you’re limiting any potential distractions.


This is something pretty much everyone is guilty of; after all, it’s normal human behavior. Whenever something remotely interesting is going on, we feel an overwhelming urge to look. Sometimes, the look turns into staring, at least until the incident is out of view.

Commonly known as rubbernecking, it’s also dangerous behavior. There’s a good chance you’re not the only one on the road rubbernecking, and this can cause a chain reaction. Just imagine what can happen if multiple drivers stop paying attention at the same time.

While it’s not easy to break this habit, and some people may even find it impossible, you can take a few steps to limit the risk. If you absolutely must look, keep it to a quick glance. Remember, social media is everywhere and there’s a good chance you can catch all of the details online. Just remember to pull over before you start scanning your social media feeds.

Eating and Drinking

When it comes to eating, drinking, and driving, this has become acceptable behavior. Everyone’s in a rush and this often includes mealtimes. Besides, why else are there drive-thru windows if drivers aren’t expected to eat in their vehicles?

Eating and driving is never a good idea since this requires you to take at least one hand off the wheel. Yes, you may be thinking you can steer with your knees. Guess what? This behavior is illegal and it’s also dangerous. Pull over when it’s time to eat—this is also good advice when it comes to guzzling coffee, water, soda, and juice.

However, sometimes you get thirsty and don’t want to pull over, which is when it’s a good idea to have a car-safe cup. The lidded cup prevents liquids from spilling and ensures you’re never driving while thirsty.

Don’t Become a Distracted Driving Statistic

Getting distracted behind the wheel is easier than you may think. There’s a good chance it’s already happened to you. 

While you can take steps to help ensure your attention doesn’t wander, the same can’t be said for other drivers. This means you can still find yourself involved in a distracted driving accident. If you’re in an accident with a distracted driver, talk to a personal injury attorney about your legal options.

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