Distractions can put lives at risk

Drivers always need to stay focused on the road.

Icon Grid

  • Phones

  • Infotainment systems

  • Sat-Navs

  • Other people

Taking your eyes off the road can be fatal

From the latest devices to friends chatting, it’s easy to be distracted while you’re driving. In a fast-moving vehicle, it only takes a split second to cause a serious collision.

What you need to know

  • Drivers being distracted results in a significant number of road casualties every year in Scotland
  • It’s illegal to use a hand-held phone while driving
  • Other technology and loud music can easily divert attention
  • Friends and other passengers can cause distractions too
  • Pre-planning before a journey can help

Types of distraction


  • Messaging, browsing and talking on the phone are all common problems
  • It’s a criminal offence to use a hand-held phone while driving
  • As well as being dangerous, it carries a £200 fine and six points on your licence
  • Even using a phone on loudspeaker can be distracting
  • Try to put it on silent before your journey
  • If you’re using it for music or Sat-Nav, sort it out before you set off


  • Being distracted by other passengers in the car reduces your ability to stay in control
  • Don’t try to impress friends by taking unnecessary risks, or driving too fast
  • Make sure your music is at a level for driving (so you can hear a siren, for example), not to keep friends happy
  • Ask passengers to keep the conversation down if it’s distracting on a difficult drive
  • Make sure children are securely strapped into car or booster seats
  • Keep any pets restrained in the car at all times – the law states that “when in a vehicle, make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves if you stop quickly.”


Most vehicles have technology designed to assist drivers, but a lot of the equipment can cause distractions.

Infotainment systems

Using touchscreens, buttons or voice activation can impact on reaction times
Adjusting a screen on the move can take longer than you think
Changing music or the radio can make you lose concentration
Find out more, read ROSPAs infotainment systems factsheet

Sat-Nav systems

  • Entering destinations and listening to directions is a distraction
  • The system shouldn’t dictate your driving if it leads to bad decisions or hesitation
  • Always position your device somewhere safe that won’t affect the airbag
  • Find out more, read ROSPAs satnav PDF


  • Using these makes it difficult to hear noises outside the car – like emergency sirens
  • A delayed response could have serious consequences
  • Although not illegal, in a collision you could be prosecuted for wearing them

Always make sure you know how any on-board technology works before you set off and if you need to use a device, stop somewhere safe first.

Other distractions

Other everyday things can easily make you lose concentration while driving.

  • Loud music

  • Eating while you’re on the move

  • Mental distractions, like worrying about work

  • Looking at things happening outside your car

  • Not paying attention when driving on familiar roads

Back to top