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What You Should Know About Distracted Driving

July 03, 2018, 3:23pm EDT

Person texting and driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration1, distracted driving caused 3,522 people to lose their lives in 2021. What is distracted driving and how can you stay safe on the road? Read on to learn more. 

What is distracted driving?

Distracted driving is any movement that redirects attention away from the fundamental task of driving. The number one cause of motor vehicle crashes is driver distraction. While cell phone use is the most common driving distraction, it is not limited to the use of mobile technology.

There are several dangerous distractions you may experience while driving and they have been categorized as cognitive distractions, visual distractions and manual distractions.

Cognitive distractions

You likely experience cognitive distractions when your mind is preoccupied with thoughts other than driving–especially thoughts involving strong emotions. 

Cognitive distractions include: 

  • Leaving work after a stressful day
  • Conflicts with your car passengers
  • Pondering over a distressing event
  • Driving away after a heated argument
  • Responding to a text or email while driving

Visual distractions 

You hands may be on the wheel, but visual distractions and activities can lure you to take your eyes off the road. 

Visual distractions include: 

  • Turning your head to check on your kids in the back
  • Looking at your GPS map and directions
  • Staring at a car accident
  • Looking at wildlife, scenery or something captivating out the window
  • Voice texting or talking on the phone while driving

Manual distractions

When you are in a hurry or trying to multi-task, manual distractions cause you to take your hands off of the wheel.

Manual distractions include:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Applying makeup
  • Adjusting the car radio, temperature controls, windows, or mirrors in the car
  • Smoking
  • Grabbing something that fell or tipped over
  • Using your cell phone to dial, check social media, take pictures, or respond to texts

How to avoid distracted driving

Take the pledge today with all the driving members of your home against distracted driving. You will not only make the roads safer for yourselves but for everyone else on the road. 

Here’s how to stay safe while driving:

  • Make any phone calls or respond to any texts that need quick response.
  • Ensure all the passengers of the car are safely buckled in.
  • Find the correct route and address on your GPS.
  • Finish up any food or drink you are consuming.
  • Finish any makeup you are applying.
  • Select your desired music and car temperature for your drive.
  • Adjust the car's mirrors and windows where you want them.
  • Make sure you are in a healthy state of mind when driving.

Is your car unsafe? Donate it!

Don’t feel safe in your current car? Turn your ride into a vehicle for change by donating it to NKF. You’ll help kidney patients and receive a tax credit! Our car donation process is easy. You can donate online, or call 800.488.2277 between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday EST.

Get started today.


1“Distracted Driving.” NHTSA, www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving. Accessed 20 Sept. 2023. 

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