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Top Five Distractions That Cause Auto AccidentsIn this fast-paced world, almost anything can cause an auto accident. That said, it helps to know the leading "anything" factors that cause auto accidents. What are the top five factors on that list of anything?

These factors typically take the form of everyday distractions. Distractions are, of course, anything that takes your attention away from the act of driving and off of the road in front of you.

The perfect formula for an accident can be created in almost an instant; if a driver is distracted even more a moment, anything can happen.

Think of anything that can happen in one second while on the road: a motorcycle veers into your lane or loses control, something is mechanically wrong with your vehicle and thus causes a breakdown on a busy highway, or a child runs into the street as you reach over for a sip of your hot coffee. The value of time becomes truly tangible while driving.

The top five distractions while on the road are phone use, eating, daydreaming, grooming and use of miscellaneous electronics. Each of these distractions is just as dangerous as the others. By knowing and understanding the top five distractions that cause car accidents, a driver can be more aware of his environment both inside and outside the car.

1.) Phone Use

These days, a phone can be almost anything. A phone can be a radio, a GPS or a computer, as well as a device for contact. It is for this reason that a phone is at the top of the list of the most common distraction while driving.

Whether a driver uses their phone for texting, calling, finding directions or searching the web, just the act of paying attention to your phone while driving is a recipe for a distraction-related accident. Phones cause a distraction because they take both your eyes and your hands away from the act of driving, which means you lessen your means of both reaction time and availability.

The solution, other than refraining entirely from phone use, is to plan ahead. If you are expecting an important phone call while on the road, find a place to answer that phone call. If you absolutely must answer a call or text, put the phone on its speaker setting or have a passenger answer the call/text.

The best advice we can give in relation to driving and cellphones: do not text while driving. In fact, many states have passed laws making texting while driving illegal for this very reason. If you find yourself instinctively reaching for your phone while driving, keep your phone in the back seat. No call or text is important enough to risk your life and the lives of others.

2.) Eating

While it may be tempting to grab a bite for the road or get a fast breakfast before another day in the office, eating requires your attention to be on your hand to hold food items, your mouth to chew and swallow them without choking, and your eyes to glance at them between bites to make sure it does not fall to your feet.

When you attention is spread like this, it is split even further as you simultaneously concentrate on the road and steer with your other hand. Doing all these things at once divides you attention and ability to react. Losing your ability to react is as detrimental as driving while intoxicated.

A solution to this problem is to eat before you get behind the wheel or have a little snack to tide you over until you reach your destination. A bowl of cereal or a breakfast bar at home could do the trick. If you are looking for a faster option, keep your food in its bag until you reach your destination. Another option is to leave earlier so you can eat in the parking lot with the car safely stationary.

3.) Daydreaming and Outside Distractions

After a survey of primary causes of car accidents, many of those involved said that their respective accidents were caused by daydreaming or outside distractions. Daydreaming takes attention away from the world, and while it may be an escape from this reality, no driver needs to daydream to escape from the road while they are driving.

Daydreaming is like putting your mind on autopilot, which can make it seem as if the drive itself cost no time at all. In an ideal world, this would not seem so bad, but in an ideal world, the possibility of an accident would not exist.

A similar factor in this category is an outside distraction. During or after an accident, drivers will slow down to watch the lights from the responding official and paramedic vehicles as they pass by. This slows the flow of traffic and takes many pairs of eyes off of the road at one time; creating the chance of a second accident occurring on what is already the scene of an accident.

To avoid this, keep your attention on the road at all times. Try not to allow yourself to daydream, and if you're driving past the scene of an accident, glance on the road ahead of you to avoid any glass or debris, acknowledge that an accident indeed occurred, and keep driving.

Ogling at the scene of the accident does no one any good and increases the probability of a second accident on the scene. Keeping your eyes on the road during an outside distraction serves as a precaution for other drivers who may not be paying attention to the road.

4.) Grooming

Everyone has those days when they are running late for work. On days such as these, people will do the shortened version of their daily routine at home and take the rest of their routine with them to finish later. Unfortunately, this “later” usually means during the morning commute. This logic drives multitasking while on the road and never leads to a secure outcome.

Grooming while driving is another distraction that could lead to an auto accident. Grooming is an overall distraction that includes combing, brushing hair; using hair spray; putting on makeup; shaving; or even brushing one’s teeth. The time it takes to do any of these things takes away from valuable time that could be spent focusing on the road. 

A solution to this would be to wake up earlier to add extra time to your morning routine. Another possible solution is to bring your grooming tools with you and finish your routine upon arriving to your destination.

5.) Music and Other Electronics

While phone use is a category of its own, other electronics can cause just as many issues as a phone. Other electronics include your GPS, any music player and even the radio of your car. Music itself can cause a distraction, and thus any electronic that plays music is a source of distraction.

A solution to distracting music is creating a playlist that you will not need to alter while driving. Any other electronic can be used either at the destination or before the commute begins. The GPS is made to be used while on the road, so safety is only a matter of making sure to use it at stop signs or stop lights, to ensure your focus stays on the road.

While anything that causes a distraction while driving should be included on this list, this would make the list endless. Using the phone, eating, daydreaming, grooming or using other electronics only cover the most common types of distractions.

In truth, anything that is not the act of driving is a distraction. Avoiding them simply means being more aware of your surroundings - both inside and outside your vehicle. Using solutions to avoid these distractions makes the road safer for both yourself and other drivers.

If every driver took steps to take away all distractions while behind the wheel, then the amount of accidents caused by distractions would drastically decrease. All drivers have a responsibility to the drivers around them, and one aspect of that responsibility is avoiding distractions to keep the roads a safe space for any driver.

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