Driving Distractions: The Do’s & Don'ts

traffic safety

Distractions are one of life's greatest pleasures, but they are better in some scenarios than others. Here are a few examples of superb distractions and times when you should enjoy them... as well as times you seriously should not. 

"The Smartphone Distraction"

Distraction Rating: 9.5/10

Smartphone distractions are a new classic. Ever since someone threw their MP3 player, camera, and flip phone into a bin at the airport and looked down at it and shouted, "eureka, baby!" we've loved these silly things. They tell us where we need to go, they connect us to friends and loved ones, and they let us surf the entire internet as we please. Simply put, this is the premier distraction of our time. 

Usage Guide

  • Signaling disinterest during a bad date – Good
  • Texting while driving, even in slow traffic – Terrible, Very Not Smart


  • Keeping children quiet for a few minutes of precious silence at the restaurant  – Superb
  • Setting up your sick road trip playlist while backing out of a driveway – Just Awful


  • Taking pictures of friends and loved ones on special occasions – Lovely
  • Taking pictures of an awesome sunset while driving – The Absolute Worst


"The Car Radio Distraction"

Distraction Rating: 8.5/10

Ahh, the Car Radio Distraction. A timeless classic, enjoyed by everyone from music aficionados and political news junkies to sports fans who want to hear groups of people screaming about whether the Patriots cheated again (they totally did). This innocent-looking device does in fact have many innocent, useful applications. But, like foam pool noodles and ketchup, it can also be used badly. 

Usage Guide

  • Listening to your favorite oldies while watching the road – Right On, Maaaaan
  • Trying to find your favorite oldies station without looking at traffic – Super Dangerous


  • Nodding your head in agreement with your political talk show of choice – Solid
  • Shouting your disagreement directly at the radio without paying attention – Not the Best


  • Listening to sports radio calmly, like a normal person – Good Stuff
  • Swerving out of rage when someone says LeBron is better than Michael Jordan – Unsafe


"The Passenger Distraction"

Distraction Rating: ???

The Passenger Distraction is a most unusual case. Its rating depends entirely upon the passenger in question, which means it will vary wildly. However, there are a few tips that will apply very generally to passengers of all stripes. Yes, even you. 

Usage Guide

  • Asking the driver polite questions when traffic is light – No Worries
  • Demanding to know when you will get your chicken nuggets on a busy highway – Don't


  • Politely requesting to pull over at the next rest stop – You Rock
  • Shouting "I'M GONNA BURST" and undoing your seat belt – Asking for Trouble


  • Asking "are we there yet?" – Boooo!
  • Not asking "are we there yet?" because if you have to ask we obviously aren't – Woooo!


Now You Know

As we've established, distractions are sometimes a good thing, and sometimes a very bad thing. Context matters: Conversation is a nice distraction to break up a long drive, and a terrible distraction in rush hour. Keep this simple idea in mind and you'll enjoy the best of life's distractions while avoiding the worst. Now then, what were we going to cover next? Sorry, I got distracted.