Daydreaming, not cell phone use, may be the biggest distraction on the road, according to a new insurance company report.
Erie Insurance analyzed a nationwide census of fatal car crashes in 2010 and 2011, outlining the top 10 driving distractions. Driving distractions were found to be the cause in one of every 10 fatal car accidents, accounting for more than 6,500 deaths in the past two years.
"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," said Doug Smith, senior vice president of personal lines at Erie Insurance.
The majority of distracted drivers, according to police report data in the census, were described as "generally distracted" or "lost in thought." These “daydreamers” accounted for almost two-thirds of distracted drivers. Use of a cell phone was second on the list.
The top 10 distractions involved in fatal car crashes:
- Generally distracted or “lost in thought” (daydreaming) – 62%
- Cell phone use (talking, listening, dialing, texting) – 12 %
- Outside person, object or event, such as "rubbernecking" – 7%
- Other occupants (talking with or looking at other people in the car) – 5%
- Using or reaching for device brought into vehicle, such as navigational device, headphones – 2%
- Eating or drinking – 2%
- Adjusting audio or climate controls – 2%
- Using other device/controls integral to vehicle, such as adjusting rear view mirrors, seats, or using OEM navigation system – 1%
- Moving object in vehicle, such as pet or insect – 1%
- Smoking-related (includes smoking, lighting up, putting ashes in ashtray) – 1%
In addition to encouraging drivers to avoid the distractions above, Erie Insurance offers the following tips to avoid cell phone distraction:
- Let incoming cell phone calls go to voicemail.
- If someone calls you while they're driving, ask them to call you back later and hang up.
- If you must talk or text, pull over.
- Lead by example; if you want your children to drive safely, show them how it's done.