Distracted driving has long been recognized as a major cause of highway accidents. Texting, talking on the cell phone, dealing with navigation systems and talking with other passengers in the car may be at the top of the list for causing drivers to take their eyes off the road. These are definitely dangerous driving behaviors and clearly understood as being unwise and potentially illegal.
There are some other distractions, perhaps not given as much consideration, that are equally dangerous. They are not necessarily viewed as dangerous and, in some cases, are actually encouraged and approved of in society.
1) Panhandlers are increasingly prevalent on roadsides. You are more likely to encounter them at traffic lights and intersections where you are more or less a captive audience. They tug at your heart strings with their handmade signs proclaiming their homeless status, unemployment situation or addiction issues. They are weaker members of society, to be sure, but they also force your attention somewhere other than your driving. Taking time to engage in conversation or digging in your wallet for spare change is an interruption in the normal flow of traffic. The time and place for the care of the homeless is not along the highway.
2) Equally distracting is the roadside flower huckster. The more aggressive of them will step into traffic in order to procure a sale. Once again, the goal is to make a sale based on your perceived love or guilt towards your partner - a crime that can apparently only be repaired with a bouquet of wilting flowers.
3) Fall is the perfect time for fraternities, sororities and other groups to step into the intersection with their coffee cans and ask you to support their favorite charity du jour. This group can be extra distracting because they tend to come out in droves and are at least as interested in socializing as they are in charitable donations. Akin to this group is the car wash fund raisers where teens and pre-teens wave around their illegible cardboard signs and hope to attract (distract) your attention with their antics.
In our very mobile society, everyone thinks they have a reason to be on the road. Everyone behind the wheel of a motorized vehicle may have that right. Anyone trying to take the driver's attention from their task at hand does not share in that right.