The roadway danger posed by electronic distraction has received widespread attention in recent years; to date, 39 states ban texting behind the wheel for all drivers, and an additional 6 prohibit texting for novice drivers. The prevalence of texting behind the wheel and its dangerous roadway implications has spawned numerous studies, advocacy groups, and safety campaigns.
Yet, according to a new study, there is another form of driver distraction that is far more likely to cause a serious crash than use of an electronic device. This behavior, however, receives far less attention.
Being “Lost in Thought” Even More Deadly than Texting
A new study conducted by the Erie Insurance Group focused on the 65,000 fatal car accidents that occurred in the United States over the last ten years. Researchers found that 10 percent of these accidents—6,500 deaths—were the result of distracted driving, a figure in line with government and other industry estimates.
Some form of mobile phone use was found to be responsible for causing 12 percent of the distracted driving accidents. This figure is by no means insignificant, and means that approximately 780 lives nationwide could have been saved if drivers had not let themselves be distracted by a mobile device.
While electronic distraction was found to be a serious cause of fatal accidents, its contribution to the total number of distracted driving deaths was dwarfed by another behavior: daydreaming. According to the study, a whopping 62 percent of the fatal distracted driving crashes were caused by simply being “lost in thought.”
Other minor causes of distraction found in the study included kids or other vehicle occupants, reaching for an object in the car, eating or drinking, operating vehicle controls, and pets.
Hold Negligent Drivers Accountable; Contact a Car Crash Attorney
One of the reasons texting gets a lot of attention as a major form of driver distraction is because it is illegal to text while driving in most states. Yet, while there is no law against daydreaming behind the wheel and many other forms of distraction, that does not mean there are no consequences to being inattentive while driving.
When a distracted driver causes an accident, it doesn’t matter whether the driver was distracted by texting, daydreaming, or anything else; he or she is responsible for neglecting to pay attention to the road. If a distracted driver injures you or a family member, the driver and his or her insurer can be held financially liable in a personal injury lawsuit.
If you’ve been in an accident and suspect distracted driving was involved, or if a family member has been killed in a fatal accident, contact a personal injury attorney today. By holding irresponsible drivers accountable, you are not only getting the compensation you deserve, you are sending a message that incentivizes safer driving by everyone.