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Jim Lewis
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Study Concludes Daydreaming Number One Cause of Distracted Driving

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Statistics from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a nationwide census of fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), shows that of the 65,000 victims killed in motor vehicle crashes over the past two years, one in ten of those victims died in crashes caused by a distracted driver.

Our Virginia injury law firm has written many articles about accidents that were caused by distracted driving, the most common causes being texting and cell phone use. But a new study has concluded that it’s actually five times more dangerous to daydream while driving than texting or talking on your phone.

The study, conducted by Erie Insurance Group, found that 62 percent of all distracted driving accidents in the U.S. each year that resulted in fatalities were blamed on daydreaming, or being “lost in thought”. In comparison, only twelve percent of those distracted driving accidents were caused by some kind of mobile phone use.

The data from the study was taken from 2010 and 2011. The types of distracted driving were broken down into specific types of distractions based on the categories police classified the cause to be in the accident reports. The top ten were:

  • Generally distracted or “lost in thought” (daydreaming – 62 percent.
  • Cell phone use (talking, listening, dialing, texting) – 12 percent.
  • Outside person, object or event (i.e. rubbernecking) – 7 percent.
  • Other vehicle occupants – 5 percent.
  • Using or reaching for device brought into vehicle (i.e. navigational, headphones) – 2 percent.
  • Eating or drinking – 2 percent.
  • Adjusting audio or climate controls – 2 percent.
  • Using devises/control integral to vehicle (i.e. mirrors, seats) – 1 percent.
  • Moving object in vehicle (pet, insect) – 1 percent.
  • Smoking related – 1 percent.

The insurance company stresses that although cell phone use was only at twelve percent, it’s still important for drivers to refrain from using the phone while driving. They suggest letting calls go to voicemail or asking callers to call back later. Texting should only be done once pulled over safely off the road.

But the study is also a critical reminder to drivers of all the other factors besides cell phones that can cause distractions which could lead to fatal consequences.

Daydreaming and driving even more dangerous than texting and driving.