The U.S. Department of Transportation has declared April to be National Distracted Driving Awareness month. Distracted driving is anything that takes the driver’s eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, or mind off the primary task of driving safely. When you think about distracted driving the first thing that comes to mind is probably cell phone use, whether it is talking, texting, or using the internet behind the wheel. While cell phone related distractions are a major concern, a recent study found that another type of distraction has been responsible for even more accidents. Believe it or not daydreaming or being “lost in thought” is the biggest form of distraction when it comes to distracted driving. In fact you are five times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident because you were daydreaming than if you were distracted by a cell phone.
The study conducted by Erie Insurance Group looked at the 65,000 fatal accidents that happened in the U.S. in 2011 and 2012. It found of those fatal accidents caused by distracted driving, being “lost in thought” was the cause in 62% of those accidents. This is 50% higher than the number of fatal crashes caused by cell phone use. Other common distractions that the study found include: rubbernecking (7%), other people in the car (5%), reaching for an object in the car (2%), and eating or drinking (2%).
While driving has become one of the most routine tasks people do on a daily basis it still requires a high level of concentration. As this study shows, failing to give the task the attention it needs can have deadly results. Being distracted behind the wheel, for whatever reason, is a classic case of negligence. If a driver is involved in a wreck due to being distracted he or she is likely to be held liable for the damages and injuries suffered by others involved in the wreck. Getting caught up in a simple daydream is not worth the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars a driver could owe as a result of lawsuits stemming from an accident.