What Distracted Driving Behavior Causes the Most Accidents?

male driver texting while driving
August 16, 2018
Legally Reviewed By Attorney Rand Spear, Esq.

5 Distracted Driving Behaviors That Can Cause a Bad Car Accident

If you have been injured by a distracted driver, you have important legal rights. Talk to a car accident lawyer in Philadelphia.

In recent years, distracted driving has reached epidemic levels. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that over 3,400 people died in distracted driving crashes in 2016, and the number continues to climb. The NHTSA also reports that 391,000 people were injured in distracted driving accidents in 2015.

While most people associate cell phones with distracted driving, the NHTSA defines distracted driving as, “any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.”¹

Most people don’t like to admit that they drive distracted, but surveys reveal that just about everyone does it. One report showed that drivers use their phones on 88 percent of all trips. The same report revealed that the average motorist will spend 3.5 minutes on the phone while driving. If you’re going to drive, it has never been more important to do so free of distractions.²


The rapid increase in smartphone ownership has paralleled with the increase in distracted driving deaths and injuries. Pew Research reports that 77 percent of Americans now own a smartphone. In 2011, just 35 percent of people in the U.S. owned one. This large jump in just a few short years has completely changed the road. With selfies and apps that pull a driver’s attention away from the task of driving, motorists put everyone in danger when they fail to put their phone down. ³

The popular Snapchat app has been a factor in at least two major car accidents. In a 2018 car accident, investigators reported that a teenager was driving 106 miles per hour while using the Snapchat app, lost control of her vehicle, and hit a tree. The crash killed one passenger in the car. Reports state that the driver will face vehicular homicide charges. ⁴

Eating and Drinking

We’ve all done it. You get in a hurry and suddenly you realize you haven’t eaten a meal in hours. It’s easy to grab fast food and continue on your way, but is it really safe? From big burgers that require two hands to eat to hot cups of coffee that can spill and scald you, food and beverages behind the wheel can spell disaster.

In fact, studies show that eating and drinking behind the wheel can be just as deadly as texting and driving. In 80 percent of all car accident cases, the driver glanced away from the road for at least three seconds prior to the crash. If eating and drinking pulls your attention away from the task of driving, you put yourself at an increased risk of being involved in a collision.⁵

Personal Grooming

If you have a long commute to work, you have most likely seen some pretty alarming motorist behavior. People in a rush will do just about anything behind the wheel, from applying makeup and shaving to reading a book and even brushing their teeth. The problem, of course, is that you can’t focus on driving if you’re concentrating on a chapter in your book or trying to put on your mascara in your visor mirror.

Talking to Passengers

Believe it or not, the people riding in your car can be just as distracting as glancing down at your cell phone. Federal data shows that over half of distracted driving accidents are caused by motorists talking to their passengers. While it may seem easy to carry on a conversation while you drive, the reality is that most people’s brains aren’t capable of multitasking. When you think you are doing two or more activities at once, your brain is actually rapidly switching between one task and the other. This means you’re not fully paying attention to any one task, including driving.⁶

Using Your GPS

Navigation systems are standard in most cars nowadays, and they certainly make it easier to get from Point A to Point B. However, GPS systems and navigation apps can also be a major source of distraction.

Unlike the majority of GPS systems in cars, navigation apps don’t have lock features that disable the app while the car is in motion. This means drivers can reach down and engage with the app while they are driving. The popular Waze app has even been criticized for steering motorists into danger and pulling drivers’ attention away from the road. ⁷

Safety experts recommend pulling over in a safe location if you need to make adjustments to your route or navigation app settings. Your safety is too important to leave to chance.

Contact a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer

If you have been injured by a distracted driver, you have important legal rights. Talk to a Philadelphia car accident lawyer to discuss your case.

Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney Rand Spear

T: 215-985-2424


Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case. Recoveries always depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case, the injuries suffered, damages incurred, and the responsibility of those involved. This article is not to be considered advise, only the execution of the contingency agreement with this law firm will constitute an attorney-client relationship. The contents of this article are for general information only. If you would like to pursue a claim, please contact an attorney immediately to discuss your specific facts and circumstances regarding your claim. Some cases accepted by this law firm may be referred to or worked on by other lawyers, depending on the area of practice and specifics of a particular case.