What Distracts Us When We Drive? - NYCM Insurance Blog

Find an Agent

Home Top Ad

Responsive Ads Here

Apr 19, 2023

What Distracts Us When We Drive?

Distractions Are Everywhere When Driving. Read About 4 Common Distractions and How to Avoid Them.


Most people know about the perils of distracted driving and the importance of keeping your focus on the road and its surroundings. But despite the growing awareness around the dangers of multitasking and operating a motor vehicle, distracted driving was responsible for 3,142 deaths and more than 400,000 injuries in 2020 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


There are a number of things to remain aware of when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, and unfortunately a growing number of distractions make it difficult for us to maintain our focus on the road. As vehicles are becoming equipped with new technologies like digital displays, backup cameras, GPS, and bluetooth capabilities, it may seem even more challenging to keep yourself from being sidetracked from driving.


But staying vigilant on the road can be a matter of life and death, and it’s important to know what can distract you to prevent you from letting your guard down. Continue reading to learn about common distractions to be wary of when driving your vehicle!


Cell Phones

It probably comes as no surprise that the biggest distraction for motorists are cell phones. Cell phones are a big part of our everyday lives, allowing us to be connected to one another at any time. But behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, a cell phone can be a deadly distraction—according to the NHTSA, “Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”


It’s a good idea when driving to keep your cell phone at arm’s length, or on Do Not Disturb, until you’ve reached your destination to avoid any temptation that might arise if a call or text comes in. All it takes is one quick moment for an accident to occur that could alter your life forever; play your part in keeping the roads safe by putting your cell phone away for the ride. If you do need to place a call or text on your cell phone while on the road, always pull over first.


Radio, GPS, and Climate Control

As the ongoing innovation of vehicle technology has made commutes more comfortable and convenient, the newer features also add to the potential distractions in your car or truck. When you take a moment to adjust things like the music, directions, and temperature while driving, it requires you to take your eyes off the road and may leave you vulnerable in the midst of traffic.


Before you leave your driveway, prepare your vehicle and devices so that you won’t need to fuss with them on your route. Set your radio to a station, playlist, or channel that you will be happy with for the duration of your commute. If you require directions, set up your route on your GPS before you leave your driveway, including any pit-stops you plan to take. And try to get your climate control to a comfortable setting before you hit the road so that you aren’t trying to find that happy medium while traveling.

Food and Drinks

Most people are guilty of stopping at a drive-through on a road trip for a quick meal without having to spare valuable time. After all, many people spend a great deal of time in their vehicles and there are few things more convenient than stopping at a drive-through and grabbing a quick bite to eat. But no matter how badly you may want to eat those hot and fresh french fries right out of the bag, eating while driving should be avoided so that you don’t compromise your ability to drive and react.


When you’re driving there can be no way to predict what will happen with the drivers and pedestrians around you. And while it may not seem overly risky to enjoy a little bit of food behind the wheel, doing so sacrifices your ability to respond quickly to whatever is happening around you.


If you must eat while out on the road, pull over so that you can fully enjoy your meal before going on to drive safely and attentively. This may also save you a stain or two on your clothes and vehicle!



Driving a vehicle with passengers can add a slew of distractions to your driving experience that you don’t experience when you drive alone. Whether a driver is just having everyday conversation with a passenger or a passenger is “backseat driving”, a passenger can be an added obstruction to a driver’s task of focusing on the road.


Younger drivers are perhaps the most susceptible to being distracted by passengers in their vehicle. In fact New York State has a law prohibiting individuals with a junior license from having more than one individual aged 21 or less in their vehicle at a time, unless they’re an immediate family member. If you’re a young driver who often drives with passengers, make sure your passengers know that with driving comes an inherent responsibility to be aware, cautious, and safe on the roads.


For teens new to driving, learning to avoid distractions behind the wheel is an integral step. Click here to read our tips for teaching teens to avoid distracted driving!