What are the Most Common Causes of Distracted Driving Accidents?

Few would argue that distracted driving accidents have been a problem nationwide for years, no less so than in Maine. The truth is, Maine has a distracted driving problem, and it’s ugly. With nearly 13 fatalities per year per one-hundred thousand people on average, the Insurance Information Institute’s 2020 report places Maine not only at the top of the list in New England but the entire northern and eastern regions of the U.S. from Michigan eastward.

What is Considered Distracted Driving?

Any non-driving activity that engages a driver behind the wheel is considered a distraction. By definition, a distraction can be manual, visual, or cognitive. Typical among driver distractions are calling, answering, speaking, texting or reading texts on a cellphone, tuning the radio, using the navigation system, talking to passengers, eating, attending to the needs of a child, and so forth. 

Distracted drivers are responsible for about 2.5 million car crashes every year around the world. It has emerged as a major problem and menace for societies everywhere. Driving takes a high degree of concentration. Statistics bear out that it only takes 3 seconds for a car to crash, hit a pedestrian, or another object once distracted. How then are drivers becoming so distracted behind the wheel?

Most Common Types of Distracted Driving Accidents

There are plenty of studies out there, but here are some of the most common causes of distracted driving accidents:

You Guessed It, Cellphones

It should be no surprise that cell phones and electronic devices are a major source of driver distraction. In fact, the NHTSA estimates that 660,000 drivers use some type of electronic device while driving. Statistics show that even looking away from the road to a cell phone for a few seconds can result in an accident. It’s not like one can quickly glance. Every time someone engages with a cellphone, it takes 13 seconds for the brain to refocus on the task at hand. It’s one of the central reasons people have become so easily distracted in their lives. 

Of all the distractions that cellphone’s cause, texting and reading messages while driving is the biggest indicator of why a cellphone should be turned off when behind the wheel. Texting and driving cause 25% of all car crashes—that’s 1 out of every 4 car accidents. One NHTSA study found that texting or reading messages will take a driver’s eyes off the road for 5 seconds or more. At 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blindfolded! Just how bad is texting and driving? It is 6 times more likely to cause a car accident than driving drunk.

Inexperienced Drivers

All drivers are at a very high risk of crashing when they use their phones. As for that map app on your phone? Using it may be convenient, but it is a feature that can seriously distract a driver’s attention from the road once you start engaging with it behind the wheel. As for teens and cellphones—over 21% of all teens involved in car accidents were distracted while driving by their cell phones. 

Cell phones aside, teens are prone to distracted driving. An AAA study found teens driving with an additional passenger in the car are twice as likely to be involved in a car accident and five times more likely while driving with two or more passengers in the car. 

Children Distracting Drivers

To be fair, it’s not just teens who are easily distracted. Parenting is another common cause of distraction amongst drivers. When young children are in their car, adults are far more likely to be distracted behind the wheel. Keeping your child in check or simply attending to them can lead to disaster. With younger children in the car, parents have an 87% chance of being distracted while behind the wheel, which can quickly lead to an accident.


The simple act of reaching for an object—a cellphone, a sandwich, a soft drink, a purse– increases the chances of a car crash by about 8 times. It’s not just reaching for that sandwich or a hot cup of coffee; eating while driving is actually the cause of 2% of distracted driving car crashes. Ever spill hot coffee while driving? Drivers are three times more likely to crash when they do. 

The issue of distracted driving is a significant safety risk. Texting and reading messages, talking on a cell phone, fidgeting with a navigation system, parenting or eating are common causes of distracted driving accidents. Driving distracted endangers you, your passengers, others on the road, and people walking across it.

Contact us for a free case assessment if you’ve been injured in an accident due to a distracted driver.