Common Driving Distractions & How to Practice Focused Driving

Like brushing your teeth or walking the dog, driving a car can be just another part of the day, just another piece of the daily routine. But routine can become dangerous when it becomes too familiar. Many people become overconfident, and this can be a problem—especially on the road. As a result, many drivers tend to the forget that the safe operation of a vehicle requires undivided attention. The truth is, car accidents happen all too often, and even the best drivers become distracted. Below are some common driving distractions and how to practice focused driving.

Top Driving Distractions

Cellphone Use

With technology being as omnipresent as it is, you’re constantly being interrupted with bings and buzzes from our mobile devices. Whether it’s a notification from your favorite mobile app, a text from your mom, or an inbound email from your boss, it’s easy for our cellphone to demand our attention. While it may not seem like cellphone alerts are a big deal during everyday life, the excitement you feel when you receive a notification is actually addicting.

You have to use some serious will power and resist the urge to reach for our phones the moment you receive a notification–no matter what or who it is! When you look at your phone while driving, you’re turning an already dangerous situation into something even more dangerous. Using your cellphone while driving is not to be taken lightly; with the rise of car accidents caused by irresponsible cellphone use, the state of Oregon has implemented a new cellphone law to help keep Oregonians safe on the road. When it comes to driving responsibly, your attention should always be on the road in front of you. To avoid grabbing your buzzing smartphone, turn it to “Do Not Disturb” mode or tuck it away and out of reach.

Eating Behind the Wheel

Eating while driving is another common driving distraction. Does the following scenario sound familiar to you? You slept through your alarm and you’re running late to work, so as part of your noble effort to eat breakfast and get to work on time, you grab a bowl of cereal to-go. You’re late, flustered, hungry, and, as a result, just spilled your Cheerios all over yourself before rear-ending (or almost rear-ending) the stopped car in front of you.

Eating behind the wheel is not uncommon. While cereal may not always be your food of choice, eating while driving happens very often because most people don’t liken eating to distraction. But even if you’re not trying to balance a bowl of cereal on your lap, you may drop a crumb of something under your car seat and subconsciously reach for it, consequently diverting your eyes from the road. Imagine what could happen if ketchup drips all over your new shirt while you’re eating a fast food cheeseburger on the highway. That stain is going to be the least of your worries.

Even though eating isn’t a challenging task, drivers need to take every safety precaution. If you’re hungry, it’s recommended that you wait to get to your destination before you start munching.

Emotional Driving/Road Rage

Driving responsibly requires a clear, focused mind. Staying aware of your surrounding is absolutely critical as it will help you reach your destination safely. That’s why emotion–positive or negative–can be a big distraction.

Negative emotions have the ability to cloud judgment, which can cause you to make hasty, irrational decisions and engage in risky behavior. If another driver cuts you off the road and you become upset, if you’re in the middle of a heated conversation with a significant other, or if you recently learned about distressing news, your mind isn’t in the right place to operate a vehicle.

Positive emotions can also be distracting. Sometimes hearing good news can cause your mind to become overly preoccupied, which can get in the way of safe driving practices. Good news can also lead to overconfidence. While it’s important to remain confident on the road, overconfidence can be detrimental.

Whether you’re experiencing positive or negative emotions, life happens, and it can be difficult to put strong emotions on hold. But it’s best to check your state of mind before you get behind the wheel. If you find yourself suddenly emotional while driving, taking deep breaths and counting to ten can help clear your head.

Fatigued Driving

Americans are busier than ever. To the average American, the ability to work non-stop is a badge of honor. Explaining to someone that you’ve been “so busy lately” is a statement to be proud of. But how does everyone accomplish so much with only so little hours in the day? Whether it’s studying for an exam, baking cookies for your kids, or making a deadline at work, your full plate of to-dos is always beckoning. Something has to give–but what?


Sleep deprivation, sadly, isn’t unusual. It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking that you can run on two or three hours of shut-eye. But while you may not notice the effects of this type of lifestyle overnight, it does catch up to you one way or another. Unfortunately, people begin to first notice fatigue while on the road. In fact, according to AAA, one-in-four Portland, Oregon, drivers say they have trouble keeping their eyes open while driving. Not thinking clearly and shutting your eyes intermittently are strong indicators of sleep deprivation. If you experience these symptoms, it’s a good idea to pull over somewhere safe and rest. Getting the appropriate amount of sleep (anywhere from seven to nine hours per night) will help you stay awake, alert, and safe on the road. It’ll also make you that much better at everything else you do.

These common driving distractions are a little too common. When you’re driving to and from a destination, your priority is to practice focused driving. You can do your best to keep yourself, your passengers, and even other drivers safe by:

  1. Putting away your mobile device
  2. Being prepared and/or waiting to eat
  3. Making sure your state of mind is clear and uninfluenced by emotional factors
  4. Getting enough sleep to avoid fatigue

If you’ve been involved in an auto accident and are looking for a Portland car accident lawyer, contact attorney Travis Mayor for excellent and relentless legal counsel. For your first consultation, call (800) 949-1481. We look forward to assisting you.

Additional Info Regarding Distracted Driving

Distracted Driving Accidents Take A Toll on Oregonians

New Distracted Driving Law