Causes of Distracted Driving (That Aren’t Your Cell Phone)

  • Jun 16, 2021
Image of a man eating while driving Image of a man eating while driving

You're never on your phone when you drive. After all, you know better than that! But avoiding cell phone use doesn't mean there still aren't plenty of things begging for your attention! There are many, not phone-related causes of distracted driving that you may be falling prey to, from fiddling with the radio to snacking to checking your GPS. Freshen up your understanding of distracted driving and get tips for staying focused on the road!

Most Common Distractions While Driving

Music and Entertainment

Finding the perfect temperature and driving music is a delicate balance. On the one hand, it’s a natural part of driving. But, on the other, data from The Zebra suggests it’s a common factor in traffic fatalities. Plan to set your controls (and your tunes!) before you leave the driveway. If you have teen drivers in the family, get them in the habit of doing the same. 

Hair and Makeup

Whether it’s taming windblown hair, double-checking for spinach caught between your teeth, or applying makeup on the fly, freshening up means taking your eyes off the road! More importantly, it can involve taking your hands off of the wheel. When you’re looking away from the road, you might not notice a traffic slowdown ahead or a changing stoplight, which can increase the likelihood of a collision. Even if you manage to slam on the brakes on time, doing so often can harm your car’s internal components.


Safestart reports that a wandering mind is a factor in a whopping 62% of distracted driving incidents and a majority of all distracted driving fatalities. For comparison, cell phone use accounts for approximately 12% of distracted driving accidents.

Chit Chat

When you’re riding with other people, it’s only natural to have a conversation along the drive. But when that conversation means putting driving second, taking your eyes off the road, or not taking a pause when navigating complicated exits or intersections, it can cause accidents. Mix in children or loose pets, and that risk threshold can increase exponentially. 

Navigation Tools

Compared to using maps or handwritten directions, turn-by-turn GPS directions can help you focus on driving. The issue here comes in changing the route, checking traffic reports, looking down, or trusting unreliable commands instead of maintaining safe driving habits. When your GPS is used responsibly, it can be a fantastic tool! Just be careful about letting it steal your attention, and remember to rely on your common sense first.  

Eating or Drinking 

Eating or drinking accounts for about 2% of all distracted driving-related accidents, according to Safestart. That’s a lot of accidents when you consider that the number of distraction-caused accidents is in the hundreds of thousands, per data from EndDD. Trust us. Your fries will taste better if you wait till you get home or pull into a quiet parking spot to enjoy them mindfully. 

Adjusting Cargo 

Reaching for devices in the gaps between the seat and the center console, searching for something in a bag, craning an arm into the backseat to get your purse, or even reorganizing to shoo an insect away, are all distractions that may raise your risk for a wreck. Geico reports that grasping behind you to get to something (or someone) can make accidents up to nine times more likely.

Automotive Issues

Is your vehicle suddenly driving rough, emitting a new smell, making a concerning noise? This can lead to a dangerous — albeit important — driving distraction. Your best bet is to pull off somewhere safe to call roadside assistance or wait till you get to your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care

Good driving habits and good car care go hand in hand. Take the pledge to avoid distracted driving and maintain your vehicle for your safety and that of others!

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