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Is Daydreaming Really a Top Cause of Distracted Driving Crashes?

December 31, 1969

Whenever you read or hear about distracted driving crashes, the focus is usually on texting drivers or on drivers who are overly focused on something besides the road. As it turns out, however, the biggest distracted driving dangers are drivers who are daydreaming and not even really focused on anything at all. 312490_man_talking_on_the_cell_phone.jpg

One new study suggests that daydreaming may be the problem, and that losing yourself in thought may be the top cause of distracted driving accidents. Our Los Angeles car accident lawyers know that any time someone takes his mind off the road, that person's chances of a crash increase. If daydreaming is really the top cause of these types of distracted driving accidents, however, then enforcing laws and preventing distracted driving may be more difficult than anyone had imagined.

Daydreaming as a Leading Cause of Car Accident Deaths
The new study on the dangers of driving while dreaming was reported recently on Fox News. The study was conducted by Erie Insurance Company and involved a review of approximately 6,500 fatal crashes that occurred during 2010 and 2011 and that were attributed to distracted driving.

Erie Insurance Found that drivers in these thousands of accidents weren't necessarily gabbing on the phone or even doing much of anything at all. In fact, when reviewing police reports about the accidents, it was discovered that only 12 percent of the drivers were using their phones at the time of the distracted driving crash.

The vast majority- a whopping 62 percent of the crashes- occurred when one or more of the drivers was "lost in thought." The use of GPS devices or built-in accessories in cars such as music systems was, by contrast, responsible for only one percent of accidents and smoking or traveling with an animal also came in at around one percent of incidents.

Of course, as Erie points out, this study was based on self-reports from people involved in accidents as well as the judgment of police officers who respond to the accident scene. The drivers who were responding to the police may have been unwilling to admit to talking or texting on cell phones, especially if their behavior was illegal, and may have instead said that they were just lost in thought to explain how the accident happened.

Proving a Case for Distracted Driving
If daydreaming really is the top cause of distracted driving crashes, this could present some challenges for plaintiffs injured in distracted driving crashes who wish to take legal action.

A person injured in a crash can file a civil lawsuit to obtain monetary damages but has to prove that the other driver was negligent or unreasonably careless. Unfortunately, it can be hard to prove that someone was lost in thought since there is no real way to show evidence that the driver's mind was occupied. The victim, therefore, might not be able to show that the crash was related to distracted driving although he could still obtain compensation if he proved negligence.

Lawmakers also would have a hard time banning and enforcing a law against daydreaming, which means it may be harder to curb dangerous distracted driving behavior in order to make the streets safer.

If you have been injured in a distracted driving accident, contact Vincent Howard today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call (800) 872-5925.

Additional Resources:
Hands Free Devices Still Increasing Risks of Auto Accidents, California Injury Lawyers, April 6, 2013.

L.A. Drunk Driving Accidents & the BAC Limit, California Injury Lawyers, April 4, 2013.