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Policing data analysed by shows that the most common factor for road collisions and casualties in Northern Ireland during 2022/23 was ‘inattention or attention diverted’.


The top three most common principal causation factors for all injury road traffic collisions in 2023 were ‘inattention or attention diverted’ (823 collisions), ‘driving too close’ (638 collisions) and ‘emerging from a minor road without care’ (378 collisions).*

There are lots of seemingly harmless things happening in the average vehicle such as travelling with pets and children, having a messy car or eating a quick snack but they can lead to a lapse in concentration, it is important drivers prepare themselves and the vehicle before setting off.

Commenting on the figures, Ian Wilson, Managing Director of said: “As the latest policing figures demonstrate, a lack of attention while driving can cause serious harm to drivers and other road users.

“It’s important that we stay focused and avoid common distractions to help keep everyone safe.

“Seemingly harmless actions, like eating or drinking in the car or leaving loose items around, can divert attention and cause significant interference while driving. It’s important to reiterate how dangerous certain distractions can be for drivers, to help them keep focus and reduce the risk of being distracted.” has warned of these common driving distractions that motorists should watch out for;

  1. Pets not restrained properly

Pets can be a big distraction for drivers if not restrained properly in the car.  Rule 57 of the Highway Code states that when in a vehicle, dogs and other animals need to be suitably restrained so they cannot distract the driver or cause injury to the driver or themselves if there is an emergency stop.  A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are all good ways of restraining animals in cars.

  1. Not storing items correctly in the car

Among these common driving distractions is a very serious issue with loose items, such as bottles, heavy toys and phones, which can hit passengers with a strong force during a collision.  The Highway Code rule 98 warns drivers to secure objects when loading a car.  Loose items in the car can become projectiles during a sudden manoeuvre or crash and can pose danger to passengers. Beverages should be placed in drink holders, phones should be securely placed in a mount and other loose items should be stored in the glove box, boot or sealed compartments and never left on the parcel shelf – to help avoid unnecessary distractions.

  1. Driving when tired

If drivers feel sleepy or drowsy they can get distracted easily, they should never sit behind the wheel, as fatigue can negatively affect their reaction time and ability to concentrate and navigate the road safely. If feeling drowsy while on the road, it’s best to find a safe place to pull over and take a break before continuing the journey. Sharing driving responsibilities or using public transportation should be considered when fatigue becomes a concern.

  1. Smoking/vaping, eating and drinking

Safe driving needs concentration. Drivers should avoid any distractions that might divert their attention from the road, such as eating, drinking, smoking or vaping.  Private vehicles must be smoke free if they are enclosed, there is more than one person present and one of them is under 18.

  1. Multitasking

Drivers can get distracted by a number of things when driving. If there are children or other passengers in the car, it’s important that drivers stay focused on the road in order to operate the vehicle safely.  Loud music, trying to read maps and adjusting the music can all divert a driver’s attention.

  1. Children in car seats

Children must be properly strapped in at all times for safety reasons and to avoid causing a distraction for the driver.  Parents should use an appropriate car seat or seat belt for their child’s age, height, weight and make sure it’s installed properly and is compatible with the vehicle.  Over half, 56%, of child car seats are incorrectly fitted.** Parents should carry out regular checks to make sure the car seat is securely fitted. If the car seat is slightly loose, then it’s an indicator that either the seat isn’t compatible with the car or it’s not properly installed. It’s also recommended to hoover and refit a car seat regularly to make sure it isn’t loose and food debris isn’t hindering the buckles.





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