Home Menu Search

Driver distraction: an increasing factor in road crashes

23 March 2016

Driver distraction has been a growing phenomenon in recent years and it is becoming a major contributing factor in road crashes. With the installation of more and more devices in cars, and especially the increased use of mobile telephones while driving, the problem is likely to get worse.

The European Commission has recently published a study on good practices for reducing risks caused by distraction.

Driving requires continuous attention to the road and traffic, as well as good vehicle control. Not paying full attention can lead to a loss of control, thus putting the driver and other road users in danger. Drivers get distracted when they are occupied with other activities. Their attention can be attracted by people or activities inside or outside the car. They may also become tired or daydream.

As Shaun Helman of the Transport Research Laboratory explains, ‘The term "driver distraction" is used widely in road safety. Although there is currently no common definition, it is generally agreed that a driver is "distracted" if their attention is focused on something other than driving. This, of course, must have consequences for safety; however, estimating the size of the problem is difficult, because different countries use different ways of coding distraction in their accident databases, and some countries don’t even collect such data. The best estimate we have is that around 10-30 % of road accidents (in the EU) have distraction of some kind as a contributory factor.’

While sources of distraction are many and varied, there are four basic types:

  • visual distraction (e.g. looking away from the road)
  • auditory distraction (e.g. a phone ringtone)
  • biomechanical distraction (e.g. tuning the radio)
  • cognitive distraction (e.g. daydreaming)

Dr Helman added,  ‘Technology may also help to reduce distraction – systems such as automated braking and lane keeping can help to mitigate the effects of distraction, and in the future higher levels of automation may even remove the effects of distraction altogether. For now however, it will be important that all drivers understand the risks and the unacceptability of being distracted while driving. In short, you cannot do two things at once, if one of those things is driving.’

For more information please click here.










Related news, events and information

New report from the European Road Safety Observatory: focus on distraction

19 January 2024 – The European Road Safety Observatory Distraction report also highlights effective measures against distracted...

Driver Distraction - New Report

4 April 2011 – Distracted driving is a serious and growing threat to road safety. With more and more people owning mobile...

Webinar - Eliminating driver distractions.

4 September 2019 – The Eliminating driver distractions Global Fleet Champions' webinar will take place on the 10th October 2019 -...

Increased autonomy sparks distracted driving warning for business drivers

12 February 2019 – Story from Fleet News. Businesses need to urgently tackle the issue of distracted drivers and overhaul their...

Driver Distraction - New resources available

8 June 2023 – Distraction is a leading a cause of collision. Whether manual, visual or cognitive, a distracted driver is not...

Distracted Driving in UAE

1 February 2023 – Distracted driving is the act of driving while engaged in other activities—such as looking after...

Scenery - The new killer

1 September 2006 – 30 August 2006 According to a recent survey DRIVER distraction has been highlighted as a major contributor to...

Smartphone apps creating more distraction

26 April 2012 – Recent survey findings from RoadSafe partner ingenie®, the car insurance brand for young drivers, reveal...

Tough new penalties for illegal mobile phone use from 27 February 2007

28 January 2007 – Motorists face tough new penalties for breaking the law by using a hand-held mobile phone while driving from...