The rise in the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers in Illinois and around the country is often blamed on cellphone use or sophisticated automobile navigation and entertainment systems, but a study released to mark the beginning of Distracted Driving Awareness Month indicates that daydreaming may be the most dangerous distraction of all. Researchers from Erie Insurance arrived at this conclusion after studying data gathered over the last five years by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.
After determining that 10 percent of the 172,000 road users killed over the last five years in the United States died in accidents involving a distracted driver, the research team studied the FARS data to find out what had distracted the motorists involved. Daydreaming or being lost in thought was listed as the factor 61 percent of the time, but only 14 percent of the accident reports indicated that cellphone use had a role.
However, the research team concedes that the FARS data may not be completely reliable. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration uses police reports to update the FARS database, but some experts say that these accounts do not accurately reflect the level of distraction on the nation's roads. They point out that motorists who have just caused an accident may not be eager to admit to law enforcement that they were daydreaming or using a cellphone at the time.
While drivers may be reluctant to confess that it was their negligent actions that caused a crash, their vehicles may tell a different story. Experienced personal injury attorneys seeking evidence of reckless behavior may have the vehicles involved in a collision inspected in order to reveal whether or not they have been properly maintained.
Source: Erie Insurance, "Erie Insurance releases police data showing daydreaming #1 on top 10 list of fatal distracted driving behaviors", Press release, April 3, 2018