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Driving distractions are everywhere. Aside from cellphones, anything that takes your mental focus away from driving, your eyes off the road, or your hands off the steering wheel is a driving distraction. Distractions are so prevalent that we often don’t realize we’re distracted at all until a crash is imminent. To help you stay safe, we’ve put together a few of these unexpected driving distractions everyone should know.

Loose Items

Picture this: You go grocery shopping and put your shopping bag in the front seat. But as you brake, your bag falls forward and empties onto the floor. You might think the distraction ends when everything falls out, but that’s not true. If a portion of your mental focus is dedicated to wondering if your fragile items are okay, it means you aren’t completely focused on driving. Likewise, there’s the temptation pick up the items before they roll around, making more noise.

Groceries aren’t the only thing to worry about. If your car is dirty or cluttered, you are more likely to reach for items while driving or perhaps stopped at a light. Though it seems small, this is one of the incremental pulls at your attention which, combined with other distractions, puts you at a much greater risk of a crash. For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep your car clean and to put items on the floor or the backseat so they don’t become a distraction.

Talking to Passengers

Talking to passengers can be a “triple threat” driving distraction. You look at the passenger talking, you gesticulate with your hands, and you contribute mental focus to listening and responding. Believe it or not, talking to a passenger is only marginally safer than talking to someone on your phone. More importantly, those who have a conversation with their passengers block out about half of their driving environment.

The same applies even if you’re not directly talking to a passenger. Rowdy kids in the back seat, for example, can be a potent driving distraction. If you’re struggling to focus while driving, make sure your passengers know that driving requires your full attention, especially if you find yourself in a stressful spot where you might hesitate before acting.

Your Favorite Music

Your favorite music can be a major distraction. That’s not to say all music is distracting; talk radio, smooth jazz, and other “easy listening” music is shown to increase driver performance. Whatever your favorite music is is the music that is most likely to distract you. Any time you sing along to yourself, tap the steering wheel, or increase your speed to match the tempo, you’re indulging a powerful cognitive distraction.

The worst part about musical distractions is that they send drivers into a kind of highway hypnosis that blinds them to their surroundings (similar to talking on the phone). Even if your eyes are on the road, the cognitive distraction is so powerful that you may not realize you’re in danger until a collision is imminent.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

As a driver, you have a duty to maintain awareness and drive safely. Before setting off, make sure you take a moment to stop and identify anything that might distract you from driving. If the air vent is squeaking, for example, do something about it before you set off. Even small distractions can add up, and before you know it, you have significantly increased your odds of falling victim to highway hypnosis and causing a serious wreck.

If you were injured by a distracted driver, let us fight for you. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Bryan car accident lawyer from The Payne Law Group, don’t hesitate to contact our firm at (979) 300-7406 or send us an email.