Daydreaming more dangerous than texting while driving - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Survey: Daydreaming while driving more dangerous than texting

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According to a new survey, U.S. drivers involved in fatal crashes are more than five times more likely to be “lost in thought” than texting or checking their phone. (Source: MGN/Susan Plank) According to a new survey, U.S. drivers involved in fatal crashes are more than five times more likely to be “lost in thought” than texting or checking their phone. (Source: MGN/Susan Plank)

(RNN) - We constantly hear about the dangers of texting and driving, but a recent survey done by an insurance group suggests one distraction can be even more deadly - daydreaming.

After studying police reports, the Erie Insurance Group found that of the 65,000 people killed in car crashes from 2010 and 2011, one in 10 were distracted driving cases.

Drivers "lost in thought" were five times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than ones using an electronic gadget.

"Distracted driving is any activity that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off your primary task of driving safely," Doug Smith, senior vice president of personal lines at Erie Insurance, said in a news release. "We looked at what law enforcement officers across the country reported when they filled out reports on fatal crashes and the results were disturbing. We hope the data will encourage people to avoid these high-risk behaviors that needlessly increase their risk of being involved in a fatal crash."

The number one reason for fatal crashes from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System data was being "lost in thought" or daydreaming, claiming 62 percent of the accidents.

Texting and other cell phone related distractions were responsible for only 12 percent of the crashes.

Other distractions include rubbernecking, having other occupants in the car, using a GPS and eating or drinking.

The AAA Foundation gives a few tips to help control your mind while on the road:

  • Treat driving as a complicated task requiring your full attention. 20 complex decisions are needed for every mile you drive.
  • If you catch yourself daydreaming or otherwise failing to concentrate on your driving, identify what is diverting you and try to overcome it.
  • Take the necessary steps to remove or reduce distractions, whether they are those over which you have control, such as turning off the radio, or those for which you will need help, such as dealing with emotional issues.
  • As you drive, play the "What If" game to stay alert and mentally prepare for driving emergencies. Ask what you would do if certain situations occur.

Thirty-Nine states have outlawed texting while driving, and six more have partial laws against messaging behind the wheel.

April marks National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

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