Pay attention! 6 causes of distracted driving

Determining the worst driver distractions
Determining the worst driver distractions © Minerva Studio/

Driving is a part of everyday life for most Americans. It's so mundane that we rarely think of the potential danger that exists around every bend in the road. Car insurance companies are aware of those risks and price their policies accordingly.

But there are dangers not only on the road -- they're also inside the vehicle, as illustrated by a new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

It looked at a number of activities and how likely they are to cause "cognitive distraction" -- in other words, a tendency for a driver's mind to wander. Bruce Hamilton, the AAA foundation's research manager, says testing revealed that some in-vehicle distractions have little impact on a driver's ability to focus on the road, while others present a bigger danger.

In addition, some technological innovations designed to make driving safer may fail to do so, he says.

"Hands-free doesn't mean risk-free, and this is the best evidence to date that shows that," Hamilton says.

Following are some of the distractions AAA examined, and how they rank on the danger scale.

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Buying the text-to-talk add-on some cars now offer might not be the best buy for your safety. From hand-held to hands-free, here are six driving distractions.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a survey that looked at a number of activities and how likely they are to cause your mind to wander while driving.

The study found that singing along to your favorite song or listening to an audio book held a low risk of distraction. That risk was slightly elevated when talking to passengers.

For years, it�s been no surprise that hand-held cellphones have been known as a moderate distraction while driving. Ten states have even banned drivers from using hand-held phones.

While speech-to-text systems might be advertised as adding convenience and safety, sending texts, emails and social updates, even if just speaking them, can be extremely distracting. And reviewing your texts before they�re sent takes your eyes and focus off the road.

Distracted driving could get you a moving violation or, even worse, into an accident.



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