Driving distractions

How to avoid distractions in your vehicle when driving on NSW roads. Animals, passengers and loose items can cause unsafe distractions.

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Distractions in your vehicle can be dangerous

Distractions take your attention away from driving. They can significantly increase your risk of crashing.

A distraction is anything that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off driving. Distractions can come from both inside and outside your vehicle.

Taking your eyes off the road for 2 seconds doubles the risk of a crash or near crash. For example, when driving at 50km/h, if you take your eyes off the road for 2 seconds, you’ll travel 28m.

When you’re distracted or your attention is divided, you’re more likely to make mistakes. A short lapse in concentration can have lifelong consequences.


Passengers can be helpful when you’re driving, by identifying hazards and risky situations. They can also help with other activities such as changing music and navigating.

However, the noise and behaviour of passengers can distract you while driving. Some passengers may encourage you to take risks, such as speeding or breaking road rules.

Young drivers have a higher risk of crashing when driving with passengers of a similar age. See Licence restrictions for Provisional P1 drivers aged under 25.

Animals in your vehicle

Animals in your vehicle can be distracting when you’re driving. They should travel in an appropriate area of your vehicle.

You must not drive:

  • with an animal in your lap
  • while an animal is being led from the vehicle, including being led by you or a passenger
  • while an animal is tied to the outside of the vehicle.

Reducing distractions

Avoiding or reducing distractions when you drive can reduce your risk of crashing.

To reduce distraction:

  • turn off the radio or music, particularly in new or challenging traffic situations
  • put loose items in a bag or box or in the boot
  • ask your passengers not to distract you
  • do not adjust the radio or music when driving
  • limit the number of passengers and animals you carry.
  • if you have a learner or provisional P1 or P2 licence, put your mobile phone on silent or out of reach, or switch it off
  • if you have a full (unrestricted) licence, avoid using your mobile phone. See Mobile phones to understand the rules about using your phone legally while driving.
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