Data shows daydreaming tops list of distracted driving behaviors

Study hopes to address the issue

Data shows daydreaming tops list of distracted driving behaviors

Insurance News

By Lyle Adriano

To coincide with Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Erie Insurance has released the data it has collected and analyzed for the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), revealing notable distracted driving trends.

According to the data, more than 172,000 people were killed in car crashes over the past five years – of that number, one in 10 crash cases involved a distracted driver. Analysis of the data revealed that being “generally distracted” or “lost in thought” was the top distraction involved in fatal crashes – an overwhelming 61% of distracted drivers admitted to daydreaming when a collision happened.

While cellphone usage – usually considered one of the top factors of distracted driving-related accidents – took second place on the list of top driving distractions, only 14% of drivers admitted to using their phones when tragedy struck. Drivers who are lost in thought are such a huge problem, that the percentage of distracted drivers who admitted they were daydreaming is easily double the combined percentage of the other distraction types listed by Erie.


The list goes:


Distraction Type

Percentage of distracted drivers


Generally distracted or “lost in thought” (daydreaming)



Cellphone use (talking, listening, dialing, texting)



Outside person, object or event, such as rubbernecking



Other occupants (talking with or looking at other people in car)



Using or reaching for device brought into vehicle, such as navigational device, headphones



Adjusting audio or climate controls



Eating or drinking



Using other device/controls integral to vehicle, such as adjusting rear view mirrors, seats, or using OEM navigation system



Moving object in vehicle, such as pet or insect



Smoking related (includes smoking, lighting up, putting ashes in ashtray)



“Some people see driving as a time to relax and unwind and let their minds drift off, but that’s actually one of the worst things you can do,” commented Erie Insurance vice-president of personal auto Jon Bloom. “Most people know about the dangers of texting while driving, but daydreaming while driving is an almost invisible distraction – people do it automatically without realizing the risk.”

Erie had conducted a similar analysis five years ago; the insurer compared the latest data with the previous assessment and found that the distractions then and now remained largely the same.

“We’re always looking after our customers; we want to not only insure their cars but also protect their lives,” Bloom added. “So that’s why we’re drawing attention to the dangers of distracted driving, including driving while daydreaming.”


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