Daydreaming drivers more dangerous than texters?
Daydreaming beat texting to be the most often cited distracted driving behavior tied to fatal crashes, according to an analysis of police reports.
Being "lost in thought," or daydreaming, topped the list of distractions involved in fatal accidents, according to police report data from 2010 and 2011 analyzed by Erie Insurance.
"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 statement. "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."
Below are the top 10 distractions involved in fatal car crashes, according to Erie'sanalysis:
Smith believes the prevalence of distracted driving may be under-reported in the study, which means the practice is more common than indicated. This is because FARS data on distraction is based largely on police officers' judgment at the time of the crash. He speculates that some people may be reluctant to admit they were distracted when being interviewed by police after a fatal car crash. The data is meaningful, however, because unlike surveys in which drivers self-report the types of distracted behaviors they engage in, the FARS data is based on police reports on fatal crashes, according to Smith.
Erie Insurance used the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a nationwide census of fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in its research. Erie Insurance consulted with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in its analysis.
Des Toups is a writer, editor and expert on insurance, cars and personal finance. He has written extensively about all three for national publications such as MSN and major newspapers such as the Seattle Times. He has been quoted about insurance issues in The New York Times, USA Today and Kiplinger's. Follow him on Twitter @destoups.