The top 8 driving distractions in America

top driving distractions in america Americans love to multitask -- even when they're driving. But distracted driving, or doing something that takes your attention away from the road, can be deadly, as 3,328 people died in distraction-related accidents in 2012, the most recent statistic available.

Not only is it dangerous, but distracted driving can be costly. If you get in an accident as a result of distracted driving, your insurance rates may go up. For example, in the state of Missouri, an accident caused by distracted driving can lead to a 50 percent hike in your auto insurance rates for three to seven years, according to the Missouri Department of Insurance.

Even minor violations, such as getting a ticket for texting while driving, can lead to higher rates for about three years in that state.

While studies show people know distracted driving is dangerous, that doesn't stop them from doing it, says Kara Macek, a spokeswoman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, an organization that represents states' highway safety offices.

Not sure whether you are an offender? A June 2014 study from market research firm Harris Interactive shines a light on the distracting behaviors Americans engage in most frequently.

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top driving distractions in america watching videos 8. Watching videos on a smartphone or other device.

Who needs a television? Thirteen percent of Americans have watched videos on a smartphone, tablet, or other device while driving, and 5 percent do so frequently.

Safety tip: The U.S. Department of Transportation advises drivers to not only turn off their electronic devices before driving, but to put them out of reach to avoid temptation.

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top driving distractions in america reading 7. Reading.

While smartphones are often cited as being the biggest distraction, there are low-tech diversions as well. In fact, "just because a driver is not on the phone doesn't mean they're focused on the driving task," says Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Consider this: Nineteen percent say they've read books, magazines or newspapers while behind the wheel.

Safety tip: Listen to audio books if you want to be entertained on your commute. Even if you're reading a map or written directions, review them in advance or pull over to the side of the road, says the Governors Highway Safety Association.

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top driving distractions in america using social media 6. Using social media.

Americans take their social networks seriously. In fact, 24 percent have updated their status or checked their accounts while on the road.

Safety tip: Disable notifications from your social media accounts while driving so you aren't tempted to join the conversation.

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top driving distractions in america personal grooming 5. Finishing your personal grooming.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to look good. But 27 percent of Americans have waited until they got behind the wheel to comb their hair, put on lipstick - or even shave.

Safety tip: Set your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier so can address your grooming needs before you leave home or once you get to your destination.

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top driving distractions in america looking on tablet 4. Looking up something on a smartphone or tablet.

We've all been struck with the urge to Google the answer to a burning question. But 36 percent have succumbed to that urge while driving.

Safety tip: If it's a matter of life or death, pull over and look it up. If not, table it until you get home.

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top driving distractions in america sending text messages 3. Sending text messages.

Thirty-seven percent of Americans have sent text messages while driving. In fact, texting while driving has become so widespread that 44 states; Washington, DC; Puerto Rico; Guam; and the U.S. Virgin Islands have all banned text messaging for drivers.

Safety tip: Wait until you reach your destination to send your text message. Even voice-to-text messaging is a distraction, says the Governors Highway Safety Association -- so avoid that if you can.

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top driving distractions in america reading text messages 2. Reading text messages.

Sending text messages isn't the only texting behavior putting you at risk. Forty-five percent have read text messages while driving.

Safety tip: Reading text messages is just as much of a distraction while driving as sending them. Download apps such as Esure's DriveOFF and AT&T's DriveMode, which let text senders know you're driving and will get back to them later.

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top driving distractions in america talking on cellphone 1. Talking on a cellphone.

Seventy-four percent of Americans have talked on a cellphone while driving, while 21 percent say they do so frequently.

Safety tip: If a passenger is in the car, let him or her make an important call for you, the Department of Transportation advises. Another option is to record a message that tells callers you're driving and will return the call when you get off the phone, suggests the Governors Highway Safety Administration.

If you're buying a new vehicle, look for one that has collision warning and automatic braking systems, Rader says. "These features can help you avoid a crash if you're not paying attention at a bad moment."

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