Grand Rapids, Michigan – Distracted drivers are more likely to be talking with passengers, snacking, reaching for coffee, trying to read and drive, or trying to grab something sliding off the seat than they are to be talking on a cell phone, according to a study by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center.

The study, which rated the top ten driver distractions, found that looking at things outside the car is the number-one distraction for most drivers. Also ranking high is adjusting the radio or changing a CD.

Interacting with passengers also ranks high, with infants being eight times more distracting than adult passengers, and children four times as distracting. Energetic teenagers are also distracting, and can be even more distracting to another teen who’s an inexperienced driver.

The study found that distractions fall into two categories: physical and mental. Physical distractions lead drivers to take their eyes off the road or hands off the wheel, and include unwrapping food or keeping drinks from spilling. Mental distractions, such as rehashing a fight with a spouse, take the mind off the main focus of driving.

Despite the fact that driver inattention is a contributing factor in over 50 per cent of crashes, most people continue to blend other tasks with the task of driving.

Connect with Autos.ca