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The dangers of daydreaming behind the wheel

The disturbing rise in distracted driving accidents in Missouri and around the country is often blamed on the popularity of portable electronic devices, but the results of a recent study from Erie Insurance suggests that being lost in thought while behind the wheel actually kills and injures far more road users each year than cell phone use. The Pennsylvania-based auto insurer came to its conclusions after analyzing data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System gathered over the last five years. The results of the study were released on April 3 to mark the beginning of Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

The researchers concede that the problem of distracted diving may be more serious than the FARS data indicates. This is because much of the information used by NHTSA is provided by police officers in the field, and motorists may be reluctant to admit to law enforcement that they were not paying attention when they crashed. However, these police reports do reveal that about 10 percent of the 172,000 road users who died in the collisions studied by Erie Insurance researchers lost their lives in accidents involving a distracted driver.

More than 6 out of 10 of the motorists who admitted to being distracted said that they were lost in thought or daydreaming in the moments before they crashed. Police reports indicate that only 14 percent of the car accidents studied were caused by drivers who were using cell phones to send text messages or make calls. A further 6 percent of drivers were distracted by objects or individuals outside their vehicles.

When distraction may have contributed to the accidents that injured their clients, and police reports are inconclusive, experienced personal injury attorneys may seek additional evidence. Lawyers could have the vehicles involved in an accident inspected to retrieve the information stored on their data recorders, and they could also scrutinize the cell phone records and internet usage details of the motorists involved.

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

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