Experts provide tips to avoid becoming a distracted driving statistic

Experts provide tips to avoid becoming a distracted driving statistic

(BPT) – Multitasking has become the theme of the decade as people try to balance work, family and social obligations in a world where time seems to be shrinking while the number of things to do is expanding.

While multitasking might be a good strategy in some situations, it is potentially disastrous when you are behind the wheel of a car. Why? When you are in control of a multi-ton object going forward at freeway speeds, a little lapse in attention can have very serious consequences.

“We all understand the pressures of trying to do more in less time,” said Mercury VP, Claims, Kevin Quinn. “And in this era where connectivity feels critically important, many people don’t want to wait to field that text, look at the most recent TikTok, or return their boss’s email. But driving should take all of your attention, not just some of it.”

Quinn offers these suggestions to those who might find the temptations of distractions like social media, in-car entertainment and hunger to be difficult to resist:

  • Don’t text and drive. Texting using a smartphone keyboard requires a great deal of attention. Even using voice-to-text functions can take your attention from the road ahead. A recent Mercury Insurance survey revealed that over 1 in 4 American drivers have come dangerously close to or been involved in an accident due to texting behind the wheel.
  • Limit phone use on the road. Even hands-free phone use draws your attention from the driving task.
  • Don’t eat or drink when driving. These behaviors force driving with one hand on the steering wheel, a practice more dangerous than two-handed driving.
  • Don’t apply makeup when driving. Applying makeup necessitates looking in the mirror rather than down the road.
  • Secure personal items within the car. If something drops, don’t begin looking for it while still underway. It will still be in the car when you stop.
  • Secure pets in the car, and don’t let them wander around the cabin. Having your dog, cat or iguana on your lap might seem comforting, but that pet can become an instant distraction.
  • Set up the vehicle for driving before you get underway. Adjusting mirrors, seats, temperature and audio choices as you drive can pull your attention from the driving task for multiple seconds at a time.

Why does all this matter? Distracted driving accidents continue to be a national problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say nine people in the United States are killed every day in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. According to, texting makes you eight times more likely to get into an accident. The impairments associated with using a cell phone while driving can be as damaging as those associated with driving while drunk.

Here are some sobering statistics from Mercury Insurance’s October 2023 survey of 1,000 active drivers on distracted driving behaviors:

  • 86% of active drivers think people are more distracted while driving compared to five years ago
  • 26% of active drivers have either come close or been in an accident due to texting and driving
  • 67% of active drivers do not wait until they’ve reached their destination before checking phone notifications
  • 66% of active drivers admit to using their phone while driving
  • 48% of active drivers have been distracted by their navigational system

While the problem of distracted driving is very real, there are hopeful signs on the horizon. Many auto manufacturers are now making voice-to-text and text reader systems more prevalent in the vehicles they build. Societal pressure is helping to make a dent in distracted driving, illustrated by the fact that 58% of respondents to the Mercury Insurance survey said that they are less likely to be on their phones when they have a passenger in the vehicle.

The best advice is this: When you are behind the wheel of an automobile, driving should be your only task. Everything else can wait.

For additional safety tips regarding distracted driving, visit:


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