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Driving and daydreaming--accidents will happen

We discuss distracted driving a great deal, and a significant source of distraction is cell phone related. That is not the only, or the largest source of distraction, according to a report by an insurance company. They reviewed police data collected at crash scenes and complied by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration in their Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

The report found that the largest cause of distraction for drivers was "lost in thought." Ten percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents are caused by one or more distracted drivers. According to the Erie Insurance Group, 62 percent of distracted drivers were daydreaming when the accident occurred. Cellphone use was only attributed to 12 percent of the distracted drivers.

This can happen to anyone, especially when you drive the same streets and interstates, every day. Ever found yourself on I-45, I-610 or the Sam Houston and realized that you did not remember driving the last few miles? That would be lost in thought, which is not a good condition when you are moving at 110 feet per second, which is your speed at 75 mph.

Other sources of distraction include rubbernecking (notice how much traffic slows, even when the stall/crash is on the lanes across the median?), speaking with passengers, eating and pets.

While cellphone use was only 12 percent, that may increase, as they become more integrated into many peoples lives.

Truth is we all tend to underestimate the amount of focus driving demands, and we are lucky most of the time. Sadly, more than 32,000 people run out of luck every year.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Phone use trails 'lost in thought' in fatal car crashes," Noah Buhayar, Bloomberg News, "April 5, 2013

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