If someone asked you what the most dangerous distraction to drivers is, you might assume phones — and that’s a fair assumption. There’s no doubt that smartphones have increased driver distraction in more ways than one.
However, a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests that other things may be worse.
Your odds of a wreck rise with every distraction
The report looked at how many times higher the odds of a crash were for drivers distracted by specific things. Your odds of a wreck are:
- 8.82 times higher while reaching for a moving object: Unsecured pets or something about to fall off the dash may require people to stretch far from the wheel.
- 6.37 higher when there’s an insect in a vehicle: A mean-looking hornet would be worse than a tiny insect for most drivers, yet it also depends on each driver’s fear of bugs.
- 3.70 greater when looking at something outside: If you live near a scenic route, watch out for tourists staring at the landscape. Things like billboards could also catch the attention of locals and visitors.
- 3.38 more while reading: Many drivers read maps, guides or route instructions.
- 3.13 higher while putting on makeup: It happens all the time, especially in the morning rush hour when people feel slow-moving traffic makes it safer.
- 2.79 more when dialing a handheld phone: Voice command dialing would be safer.
- 1.57 higher when eating: A chocolate bar is less risky than a taco with hot sauce dripping out.
- 1.38 greater when reaching for a static item: Even grabbing your glasses causes a momentary distraction.
- 1.29 more while talking on the phone: You put your mind on the conversation instead of the road
- 1.03 higher while drinking: A hot drink requires more attention than a cold one and an unlidded cup more than a small opening or straw.
Some drivers do more than one of these things at the same time, which exponentially increases their risks.
Refraining from distracted driving may not prevent a crash
Not doing such things yourself will vastly improve your safety. Yet, the road is still full of other drivers who may be distracted. If one of them injures you in a crash, you need to find out how to claim compensation.