Distraction while driving has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. You probably can’t drive anywhere without seeing at least one person texting while driving, despite more people readily acknowledging how dangerous such actions can be.

The proliferation of cellphones and other screens in vehicles is certainly cause for alarm and a contributing factor to many crashes, but it is far from the only risk for distraction that drivers have. In fact, many forms of distraction don’t involve mobile devices or screens at all.

Almost anything other than driving is actually a distraction

Generally speaking, you can break distraction into three primary categories. Manual distraction involves undertaking a task that forces you to take one or both hands from the wheel. Visual distraction includes both looking somewhere other than at your dashboard and out the windows around you. Mental distraction involves letting your mind run to other things instead of the task of driving safely.

Common kinds of distraction that don’t involve the use of screens or phones include:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Applying makeup, shaving or other grooming practices
  • Singing along to the radio
  • Reaching for something in the passenger or rear seat
  • Daydreaming
  • Conversations with other occupants or on the phone (even hands-free)
  • Events outside the vehicle that don’t impact driving (like rubbernecking at an accident)

For the safety of everyone on the road, modern drivers need to keep their hands on the wheel, their eyes on the road and their minds on the task at hand. Distraction often leads to otherwise preventable crashes and can result in liability for the driver who didn’t pay attention.