Driving Distractions

When driving a vehicle, road safety is your first responsibility. Driving is a task that requires your full attention every time you get behind the wheel. You must remember to reduce driver distractions and focus on the road. Driver distraction is one of the most common causes of collisions.

Distractions both inside and outside your vehicle can take your attention away from the road. Learn what all those distractions are and how to avoid them.

Since 2009, the use of handheld devices while driving is prohibited in Ontario. Using a hand-held or hands-free cell phone while driving makes a collision four times more likely. In fact, using a cell phone affects what a driver sees, reduces reaction time and changes the way drivers react – especially in heavy traffic.

Potential driver distractions include:

  • Technology devices such as smartphones, tablets, MP3 players and headphones;
  • Personal grooming;
  • Eating and drinking;
  • Smoking;
  • Talking with passengers;
  • Tending to children or pets;
  • Adjusting in-vehicle controls (music, climate control and GPS).

Some tips to help reduce driver distraction:

  • Allow phone calls to go to voicemail and/or park at a safe location to make phone calls or check messages;
  • Attend to personal grooming before leaving;
  • Review directions and program your GPS before leaving;
  • Preset your vehicle’s climate control and radio;
  • Do not engage in emotional or complex conversation;
  • If you are hungry or thirsty, take a break.


Having a fully-charged cell phone in your vehicle can be an important safety aid for drivers and passengers, whether for personal safety or for reporting a crime or a collision. If you must use your cell phone in an emergency that threatens your safety, consider the following tips:

  • Pull over safely where conditions allow;
  • Keep emergency calls as brief as possible;
  • Alert the caller that you are on the road;
  • End conversations immediately if driving conditions or situations become hazardous (for example, inclement weather, roadway construction, high-speed or high-volume traffic).

Related Lesson Plans

Grade 7 to 8: Transportation Safety

Grade 9 to 12: What Price DWD?