What Is Distracted Driving and How Do I Avoid It?

Across the country in 2020, more than 3,000 people were killed and 400,000 more were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. And in 2021, at least 50 Arizonans were killed in distracted driving accidents.

What is distracted driving? What are the 3 types of driving distractions? How can you avoid driving distracted and prevent others from distracted driving?

Here’s what you need to know about distracted driving.

Have you been injured or lost a loved one due to an accident with a distracted driver? The Phoenix injury lawyers at Wade & Nysather AZ Accident Attorneys may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a No Cost No Obligation Legal Strategy Session.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is any activity that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving, including using your phone, talking to passengers, eating or drinking, and playing with the radio, entertainment, or navigation system.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (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.”


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Types of Driving Distractions

Most driving distractions can be placed into three categories: visual, manual, and cognitive driving distractions. Each category presents unique problems.

Visual Driving Distractions

Visual distractions are anything that takes your eyes away from the road, including checking your GPS, looking for dropped objects on the floor, searching for temperature or mirror controls, or looking to see what song is playing. When your eyes are anywhere else besides the road, you can miss pedestrians, slow traffic, obstacles on the road, and other important information.

Manual Driving Distractions

Manual driving distractions are those that lead you to take your hands off the steering wheel, like smoking, eating, drinking, changing radio stations, putting a location into your GPS, or checking your phone. It can be harder to swerve around obstacles in an emergency if one or both of your hands are busy doing something other than steering the vehicle.

Cognitive Driving Distractions

Cognitive distractions are those that take your concentration and focus away from driving, including things like driving while drowsy or under the influence, stress, road rage, or even talking to passengers. When you aren’t fully focused on driving, you can make careless – potentially deadly – mistakes.

How to Avoid Distracted Driving

You should always stay focused when driving, keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. Choose a radio station, program your GPS, adjust your mirror, and do other tasks before you start driving, or pull over to handle the tasks safely. Avoid smoking, drinking, or eating while driving, and never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

To avoid the temptation of replying to texts while driving, you may want to set your phone to “do Not Disturb” or keep your phone out of reach while driving.


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How to Prevent Distracted Driving

As a community, we can all do a little more to help prevent distracted driving and save lives.


Parents must set examples for their teen drivers by never driving distracted. As their teen children get driver’s permits and driver’s licenses, parents also need to talk to their kids about the dangers of distracted driving. Have every family member of driving age sign a pledge committing to avoiding distracted driving.

In states with graduated driver licensing (GDL), parents should remind their children that violating distracted driving laws may result in a delayed or suspended license.


Since teens tend to listen better to their peers than their parents, ask your teen kids to talk to their friends about distracted driving. Encourage them to speak up if they see a friend driving distracted, share messages on social media reminding others not to drive distracted, or join their local Students Against Destructive Decisions chapter.


When you’re a passenger, assist the driver with navigation, music selection, or other tasks that may take their attention away from the road. Ask the driver to focus on driving and speak up if they reach for their phone, spend too much time looking at you, or show other signs of distracted driving.

Educators and Employers

Spread the word about the dangers of distracted driving at your workplace or school. Set a company policy on distracted driving or ask students to sign pledges committing to driving without distractions.

Speak Out

Make your voice heard by highlighting the dangers of distracted driving on your social media platform, speaking out at community events, supporting local laws, and finding any way you can to talk about the dangers of distracted driving. We all need to work together to help end distracted driving and save lives.


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Technology to Combat Distracted Driving

Did you know there are apps and other technology that prevent drivers from using their phones (to varying degrees) while their vehicle is in motion? Cell phone blocking apps and devices can be activated by downloading an app to your phone, adding a service to a wireless plan, or installing a device in the vehicle that puts a geofence (virtual barrier) around the driver.

This technology typically has easy 911 overrides in case of an emergency and tends to be highly customizable. For the best safety, you should set the technology to prevent all incoming and outgoing calls, texts, or data (with the exception of 911), but you can also choose to allow certain phone numbers through.


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Injured By a Distracted Driver? Contact a Phoenix Injury Attorney

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a crash involving a distracted driver, the experienced Phoenix car crash lawyers at Wade & Nysather AZ Accident Attorneys may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Schedule a No Cost No Obligation Legal Strategy Session today at our Scottsdale, Glendale, or Mesa office so we can review your accident and give you an idea about how much your case may be worth.


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