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Pop quiz: What's the biggest distraction while driving?

Drivers need to focus on the road to operate their vehicles safely. A young child could run out in the street, another car could veer into your lane, a light may suddenly change red. Any number of dangers can trigger an accident in a matter of seconds.

Focusing while driving is clearly important, and having an idea of the distractions we face every time we get behind the wheel can help us to tune these distractions out, but just what is the most common distraction that leads to accidents? The answer may be surprising.

Listed below are the four most common distractions that lead to car accidents:

  • Chatting with a passenger. It may come as a surprise, but distraction resulting from conversations with a passenger is the number one cause of distracted driving accidents, according to a recent study. This form of distraction was responsible for a reported 57 percent of distracted driving accidents.
  • Using a phone. Cellphone use while driving may have been the first choice for many taking this quiz. (insert annoying buzzing noise here - this answer is wrong!) A recent study discussed in an article by The Washington Post analyzed federal data and found that phone use attributed to 12 percent of distracted driving accidents. Although using a phone to update a Facebook post or load a Tweet is clearly dangerous, it may not contribute to as many accidents as we think.
  • Focusing on something in the car. Putting on that last coat of lipstick in morning traffic or wiping a fingerprint smudge off of the window are still leading contributors to accidents. These actions make up approximately 11 percent of all crashes.
  • Actions of passengers. Yelling from kids in the backseat or a reenactment of a funny dance move from a show the previous night - any actions by passengers other than having a discussion with the driver is attributed to another 7 percent of these accidents.

The study behind this list was conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Researchers with the study note that chatting with a passenger likely receives top ranking because it is one of the most common activities we do while driving - second only to actually driving. 

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