1570s, "perplexed, harassed, or bewildered by opposing considerations," past-participle adjective from distract (v.). From 1580s as "disordered in intellect, frantic, mad." Related: Distractedly; distractedness.
Distracted driving is attested by 1999 in automobile safety technology. In later use it tends to especially refer to technological distractions, such as text messaging or talking on a mobile phone, but it also can refer to adjusting the radio, tending to a child, or talking to other passengers.