Protecting yourself from dangers on the roadway often depends on spotting those hazards before they put you at risk. What signs should you look for to identify distracted drivers on the road?

1. Failure to follow the rules of the road

Even before you can see a driver’s behavior within their vehicle, you can spot one important sign of distracted driving: erratic or inappropriate driving. Distracted drivers may not keep an eye on their speedometer, for example, leading to speeding, driving too slowly for conditions or sudden changes of speed when the driver regains focus. Others may drive over the centerline, drift toward the shoulder or suddenly correct or overcorrect their trajectory.

2. Large gestures or emotional facial expressions

Emotional discussions or arguments in a car can remove a driver’s focus from the road. If a driver gestures dramatically, displays facial expressions that indicate that they have experienced an intense emotion or shouts, this could be a sign of these emotional discussions.

3. Crouching over, holding a phone or illuminated faces

Phones can be one of the most common distractions, whether the driver is holding on a conversation, texting, browsing the internet or using their phone for navigation. Some may hold their phone where you can see it, but others might hold their devices in their lap to keep police officers from spotting their phone in use. In these cases, a bent posture or the light of their phone could be red flags.

If you spot the signs of a distracted driver, it can be important to drive defensively because these drivers may not take steps to keep you safe. In cases where distracted drivers do cause an accident, you may be able to take legal action to hold them responsible.