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Some of the leading causes of distracted driving may surprise you

We all know that distracted driving continues to be a safety issue in this country. About one-fourth of all fatalities on our nation's roads involve a distracted driver. When we hear about "distracted driving," most of us picture people talking on their phones or texting with their friends. However, there are far more distractions, and they can be just as dangerous.

Basically, anything that takes a driver's focus off the road is a distraction. The overall cause of distracted driving is complacency. People who have been driving for many years, particularly if they're driving to or from work or some other route they regularly travel, can forget just how much responsibility being behind the wheel entails. When drivers are tired, angry or in a hurry, their focus can be even further impaired.

So what are the most common causes of distracted driving? A look at data compiled by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System found that well over half (62 percent) of distracted driving deaths were caused by a driver being "lost in thought." Cellphone use actually came in a distant second at 12 percent.

Third, at 7 percent, was something or someone outside the vehicle. We've all seen (and possibly been guilty of being) looky-loos at the scene of an accident. Sometimes, even people in other vehicles catch drivers' attention.

People inside the vehicle were the fourth most frequent cause of distracted driving fatalities, at 5 percent. This is a particular danger for teen drivers, who often have multiple friends in the car with them.

Rounding out the top 10 at 1 or 2 percent each are:

  • Reaching for something in the car
  • Eating or drinking
  • Adjusting the temperature or audio controls
  • Adjusting seatbelts, mirrors and other devices
  • Moving objects
  • Lighting or putting out a cigarette

If you're involved in a crash that was the fault of another driver, it's important that the investigation determine whether that driver was distracted by something prior to or at the time of the crash. Determining this can help you as you seek compensation for your injuries and damages.

Source: SafeStart, "Top 10 Causes of Distracted Driving--and What They All Have in Common," accessed Feb. 13, 2018

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