How Dangerous is Daydreaming While Driving? - Is Daydreaming the #1 Cause of Fatal Distracted Driving Accidents?

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Is Daydreaming the #1 Cause of Fatal Distracted Driving Accidents?

Is Daydreaming the #1 Cause of Fatal Distracted Driving Accidents?

Nov 9, 2021

Daydreaming is part of the human condition. Whether at work or during leisure time, we all daydream at one point or another throughout the day.

But when daydreaming occurs while behind the wheel, it can not only be extremely dangerous but, in many tragic cases, fatal. Although actions like texting, cell phone use, changing a vehicle’s navigation system or stereo, and even conversations with other passengers garner the most attention in terms of well-known distracted driving behaviors, it turns out that daydreaming might actually be the most dangerous in terms of car accident fatalities.

This blog will include everything you need to know about daydreaming while driving, including statistics on the dangers, how to prevent yourself from causing a distracted driving accident, and how to file a personal injury lawsuit if you’ve been harmed by a distracted driver.

Daydreaming Equals Distracted Driving

Safe driving requires a motorist’s full and undivided attention. That means that even a moment of daydreaming, being lost in one’s thoughts, or simply not paying attention while behind the wheel equals an act of distracted driving. Moreover, daydreaming distracted driving can be a serious danger to yourself and others.

The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that distracted driving causes around 920,000 total accidents every year. Of those nearly one million distracted driving accidents, about 280,000 people are injured and approximately 3,000 are tragically killed. In 2019, 8.7% of all car crash fatalities were due to distracted driving.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that each day eight people in the U.S. are senselessly killed by entirely preventable distracted driving car crashes. Compared to the NHTSA’s data, the CDC’s actually indicates that more people are injured in the U.S. every year by distracted drivers (400,000 injured versus 280,000 injured). But one of the most troubling statistics offered by the CDC confirms that one in five of the people who died in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2018 were not in vehicles?they were pedestrians, joggers, bicyclists, or otherwise outside a vehicle.

But what percentage of distracted driving car accidents involve daydreaming? An important study offers some troubling insights.

Study: Daydreaming #1 Cause of Fatal Distracted Driving Accidents

The Fatality Analysis Reporting System, more commonly known as FARS, is a nationwide census of fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes maintained by the NHTSA. In April 2018, to coincide with Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Erie Insurance and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released data highlighting daydreaming as a form of distracted driving.

Out of 10 different distracted driving behaviors, the data confirmed that “generally distracted” or “lost in thought” was the number-one distraction involved in fatal car crashes.

The table below offers the Top 10 Distractions Involved in Fatal Car Accidents, according to Erie Insurance and the IIHS:

daydreaming #1 on top 10 list of fatal distracted driving behaviors

Erie Insurance also analyzed police data compiled from 2012 through 2016. Said data offered the following insights into daydreaming while driving:

  • The majority of drivers who were distracted were “generally distracted” (inattentive, careless, or distracted – details unknown) or “lost in thought,” all of which are interpreted as daydreaming.
  • Police reported that 61% of distracted drivers were daydreaming at the time of a fatal crash (compared with 14% of drivers who were distracted by cell phone use).
  • In a similar analysis conducted by the insurance company five years earlier, the data confirmed the same prevalent types of distractions when behind the wheel (meaning daydreaming was the primary factor over nearly a decade of data).
  • Specific days of the year were more associated with daydreaming-related car accident fatalitiesSaturdays in September, specifically, were found to have the largest number of fatal motor vehicle crashes.
  • Tuesdays in February, however, were found to have the lowest number of daydreaming-related car accident fatalities.
  • Fridays and Saturdays see more daydreaming car accident fatalities than other days of the week.

Some people see driving as a time to relax and unwind and let their minds drift off, but that’s actually one of the worst things you can do,” Jon Bloom, then-vice president of personal auto at Erie Insurance, said at the time of the study’s release. “Most people know about the dangers of texting while driving, but daydreaming while driving is an almost invisible distraction – people do it automatically without realizing the risk.”

Furthermore, Bloom added that because FARS data on distracted driving is “based largely on police officers’ judgment at the time of the crash,” and given that drivers involved in accidents may be more reluctant to admit being distracted while behind the wheel in interviews with law enforcement officials immediately afterward, exact numbers are “difficult to verify and may, in fact, under-represent the seriousness and prevalence of driving distractions,” including daydreaming.

How Can I Prevent Daydreaming While Driving?

Following the release of the daydreaming while driving statistics, Erie Insurance consulted with Paul Atchley, Ph.D., an internationally recognized cognitive behavioral researcher who has studied distracted driving and worked with national safety organizations in an effort to reduce the behavior.

Atchley offered some strategies for drivers seeking to counteract daydreaming while behind the wheel. Some of those strategies include:

  • Keep your mind alert with so-called passive forms of engagement, like listening to a radio show or a podcast. According to Dr. Atchley, passive engagement can help your mind “automatically tune it [the radio show or podcast] out when it needs to.” “So, if something out of the ordinary suddenly happens in your environment, your brain won’t even hear what’s on the radio anymore. It will be fully focused on the task at hand,” he added.
  • Don’t replace boredom with a distraction (never send or read a text to alleviate boredom). Rather, play verbal road games that help you focus, like “I Spy.” Make it even more effective by saying “I Spy a Distracted Driver” which will help your mind focus even more on the road and defensive driving.
  • Keep your hazard perception skills sharp. This means knowing where to look on the road ahead and watching for situations that may require you to take an action, such as changing speed or direction. Examples include a car entering an intersection or a pedestrian crossing the road.
  • Consider carpooling with another experienced driver. Just as professional truck drivers sometimes enlist a partner to share the driving duties, Dr. Atchley says having a co-driver can also work for everyday people. Another experienced driver sitting in the passenger seat next to you can serve as a second set of eyes. Additionally, engaging in light conversation while you’re both looking at the road ahead can help keep your mind alert.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident within the last two years by a daydreaming or other type of distracted driver, you may be eligible to recover substantial financial compensation through a civil lawsuit with Dordulian Law Group. Our experienced car accident attorneys are available for a free and no obligation consultation to review your case and provide you with information on all available legal options.

Can I File a Lawsuit for a Daydreaming While Driving Car Accident Injury?

Daydreaming while driving is a type of liability that can cause serious traffic-related injuries and even fatalities. If you’ve been injured by a daydreaming driver, you may be facing a long road to recovery that includes significant medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Accordingly, the best course of action to ensure that you are fully compensated for economic as well as non-economic losses resulting from a daydreaming car accident could be a personal injury lawsuit with Dordulian Law Group (DLG).

By filing a personal injury civil claim, injured daydreaming car accident victims can pursue financial compensation for a variety of applicable damages. Some common damages that may be recoverable after a daydreaming driver car accident include:

Schedule an appointment online for a free consultation today, or call us directly to speak to our top-rated, expert car accident attorneys.

Economic Damages:

  • Hospital or medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Physical therapy expenses
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Lost earning capacity

Non-Economic Damages:

To learn more about whether or not you have a valid civil claim for a daydreaming while driving car accident injury, contact the experienced lawyers at DLG today for a free and confidential consultation. Sam Dordulian, a former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County with over 100 jury trial victories, leads a team of skilled and proven car accident lawyers who are here to help you recover maximum financial compensation for your daydreaming driver car accident injury.

To date, we’ve helped injured victims like you secure more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts while maintaining a 98% success record. To arrange a free consultation with one of our Los Angeles-area car accident lawyers, contact DLG today at 818-322-4056.

We never charge a fee until we successfully recover a maximum financial damages award for your car accident injury.

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