Telltale Signs of a Distracted Driver

There are places where you just shouldn’t use your phone: in the theater, at an important meeting, or at a restaurant. One of these recognized places should be behind the wheel, since distracted driving – like texting or eating while driving – results in thousands of lives lost per year, having claimed 3,450 lives in 2016 alone.

Distracted driving takes many forms. The Law Offices of John D. Halepaska can help you better understand the types of distracted driving so that you can avoid automobile accidents because of it.

Types of Distracted Driving

According to the DMV, there are three types of distracted driving, namely:


Cognitive distractions are distractions that take your mind off of driving. Examples of this kind of distracted driving are:

  • Interacting with passengers in the car
  • Daydreaming
  • Being deep in thought
  • Road rage
  • Being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Being sleepy


Taking just one hand off the wheel is dangerous. Manual distractions are those diversions that cause you to take one or both of your hands off the wheel. Some actions that cause manual distractions are:

  • Eating and drinking inside your car
  • Adjusting your (or someone else’s) seatbelt
  • Smoking
  • Searching for items in your bag
  • Turning knobs in your car


Visual distractions make you take your eyes off the road. Some types of visual distractions are:

  • Checking and adjusting your car controls
  • Taking in the scenery
  • Doing your makeup
  • Looking for items inside your car

According to a research by the University of Houston and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, texting leads to dangerous driving. It is the most hazardous activity to do while driving since it combines all three types of distracted driving. You are distracted visually since you are looking at your phone; cognitively because you are focusing on your conversation rather than the road; and manually since you are holding your phone instead of the wheel.

Signs of Distracted Driving

Driving fast in a curve

If you witness any of these signs, then you are in the presence of a distracted driver. What’s best is to give this driver a wide berth and to call the proper authorities to report this behavior.

  • The vehicle is drifting. When a vehicle seems to be having trouble moving in a straight line, then the driver may be doing something other than driving. If they’re veering to the left and right, they may not be paying attention to the road ahead of them.
  • Erratic braking. Distracted driving prevents drivers from slowing down when they need to. A distracted driver may have erratic braking habits because they’re too busy multitasking to focus on the road.
  • Pauses at intersections. When the traffic lights change, then it’s time to either stop or go. However, when drivers are distracted, it may take them a long time to move or to stop when the lights change. If it takes someone more than a few seconds to move during a green light, then it may indicate that they’ve been fiddling with their cellphone or were daydreaming.
  • Speed doesn’t coincide with traffic flow. Whether too fast or too slow, not going with the flow of traffic is dangerous. It can cause collisions. If a vehicle is going too fast or too slow, then the driver may be distracted.

Driving while distracted is a hazardous activity. If you (or someone you know) drive distracted, then now is the time to think about how just a moment’s inattention can spell the difference between life and death. Avoid accidents and fatalities by driving safely and focusing only on the road.