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Five Common Driver Distractions and How to Avoid Them

Five common driving distractions

Driver distraction is one of the most common issues on the road. Instances of driver distraction can lead to severe accidents, significant injury, and death. As drivers, we are responsible for many lives – our own, the lives of our passengers, and the drivers surrounding us on the road. Becoming distracted, even for a split second, can put those lives at danger. That’s why it’s important to limit distractions where possible.

With a death toll of 92 road casualties so far (according to BITRE statistics) – a higher than usual figure – it’s clear that we need to be more aware of common distractions while driving. While Novus is passionate about fixing broken windscreens, we like seeing all autoglass intact with drivers and passengers safely behind them. So, to keep you safe this year, we’ve compiled a list of common driver distractions for you to consider next time you get behind the wheel.

Types of Driver Distraction

We all know what it’s like to be distracted while trying to complete a task, but did you know there are three types of distraction specifically related to driving?

The three types of driver distraction include manual, cognitive, and visual. All are considered risky behaviours. As the name suggests, manual involves the physical movement of your hands, which takes control away from the steering wheel, gear stick, or foot pedals. For example, holding a jam-filled donut in one hand while driving, while very tempting to do, distracts you whilst driving as it impairs your ability to use both hands to operate your car.

Visual distraction involves the movement of your eyes away from the road. So, when you’re eating that jam-filled donut and some of the jam spills over onto your pants and you look down, you are becoming distracted by a visual source. At this point, your eyes are not on the road – and anything can happen in a split second on the road, especially while travelling at high speeds.

Lastly, cognitive distraction is the mental distraction you may face if you are in deep thought about something other than driving. So – to fully … the jam donut example – when you’re driving with your jam-soiled pants, it might start to consume your thoughts. You might start to think…
What am I going to do about my pants? Should I go home and change? Will I have time? How can I get jam out of my pants?

These thoughts distract you from what you should be focusing on: driving, checking your speed, reading signs, checking for hazards, and so on.

So, now that you know the types of distraction to be aware of, why don’t you get yourself a jam donut? (It’s a reward for enduring our highly illustrative examples) Just make sure you don’t consume it while driving. To learn more about common driver distractions, just continue reading!

mobile phones

1.Mobile Phones

Undeniably, one of the greatest distractions – if not THE greatest distraction – on the road is mobile phones *see image above*. It is incredibly tempting to check your phone while driving, but it’s also highly risky. Using your phone while driving inflicts each type of distraction – manual, visual, and cognitive. You may as well drive with a blindfold on!

The sad reality is that while many know the dangers of driving whilst using a phone, it’s still an ongoing issue. Check out these concerning statistics found by the AAMI Crash Index.

  • Nearly a quarter of drivers admit to reading or sending a text while driving
  • 36% of driver admit to using their phone while stopped at a red light or stop sign
  • 52% when it comes to young drivers (18–24 years of age)
  • One in 10 drivers admits to checking emails or browsing the web while driving

“People are as impaired when they drive and talk on a cell phone as they are when they drive intoxicated at the legal blood-alcohol limit of 0.08%” (University of Utah)

To deter drivers from using their phones while behind the wheel, some states have enforced harsh penalties. For example, Queensland has introduced tough new consequences for using your phone whilst driving. Drivers that are caught will receive a $1000 fine and will lose 4 demerit points. To catch more drivers, new cameras will be installed that can capture driving using their mobile phones while driving. This system was inspired by New South Wales as they implemented it first. We’re sure it’s only a matter of time before it’s a national policy.

To curb phone use, the government has also launched the ‘leave your phone alone’ campaign which raises awareness of the new penalties and promotes safer behaviours.

2.Food and Eating While Driving

While our jam donut scenario sounded like more of a comical skit than a real-life situation, eating and driving is a real issue. While we all love food and eating, there most certainly is a time and place – and your moving car isn’t it. Again, you can pretty much bet that you’ll be distracted on all levels eating and driving, making you a super dangerous hazard on the road. Although it is not illegal to eat and drive per se, if the act of doing so impairs your control of the car, you can be charged. Each state has different regulations when it comes to operating a vehicle. In Queensland, you may face a considerable fine – this happened once when a driver was fined $250 back for eating McDonald’s hotcakes and not exercising ‘Proper Control of a Motor Vehicle’.

“If eating while driving interferes with a driver’s control of the vehicle, the driver may be committing an offence depending on the circumstances.” (NRMA)

Next time you go through the drive-through, don’t start eating until you’re safely pulled over, no matter how enticing that Maccas smells.


We all love driving with our mates around. A little company on the road is always comforting and fun; however, our friends can also be a great source of distraction. Passengers should always respect the driver and ensure they can focus primarily on the road. Don’t let your friends get too loud and distracting. Let them know when you need to concentrate on driving!

driving with friends

4.Changing Car Settings

Nothing is more annoying than your radio playing up while driving. All you want is some good tunes but the settings are all wrong. While it’s easy to reach over and start adjusting the settings, this takes nearly all of your attention off the road. It’s much safer to pull over and fix up your car’s radio, air conditioner, or whatever it is that you were fiddling with. Often when we multitask, we’re doing two jobs badly rather than one job well.

5.Windscreen Cracks

Cracks, chips, and scratches on your windscreen can obstruct your vision and become a focus of distraction while driving. Thankfully, there’s an easy fix – get your windscreen repaired or replaced by a trusted auto glass specialist. If it’s a small crack and you’re early, you can avoid a windscreen replacement entirely. On the plus side, repairs are super quick and easy!

How to Avoid Distractions

Utilise the following tips to ensure you are doing the most to avoid distraction!

  • Put your phone away or put it on aeroplane mode while driving
  • Keep food well contained
  • Put coffee in cup holders (do not hold while driving)
  • Pull over to eat or change car settings
  • Avoid talking to passengers when you need to focus
  • Always get small chips and cracks repaired quickly

Let’s make 2020 the safest year for drivers! Next time you’re behind the wheel, take a minute to recognise the obvious distractions around you. Safe driving!

Novus Autoglass is Australia’s trusted brand in window and windscreen repair and replacement. Using the highest quality materials and the most up-to-date technology, Novus guarantees your windscreen will be in top shape for years to come. Book in for your next replacement on 13 22 34.

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