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What is Really The Top Cause of Distracted Driving Crashes?

This April during Distracted Driving Month, the National Safety Council (NSC) is urging everyone to sign a pledge to drive cell free. The pledge is part of a wider efforts to draw attention to the problem of texting or talking behind the wheel. Talking on a cell phone and texting are widely thought to be among the most dangerous of all distracted driving behaviors, making car accidents between 4 and 23 times as likely to occur depending upon whether you’re chatting on the phone or using it to send a text.

However, as lawmakers and public education campaigns focus on urging people not to text and drive, one recent study has indicated that cell phone use may not actually be the primary cause of distracted driving accidents after all. Our Fort Lauderdale accident attorneys know that there are lots of different types of distracted driving behavior, many of which have nothing to do with a cell phone. Still, it is not clear whether the recent study is really an accurate measure of the cause of distracted driving crashes or whether it is just one more factor to consider in trying to sort out the puzzle of solving the public health crisis that distracted driving has become.

What is the Top Cause of Distracted Driving Accidents?
According to Yahoo News, the Erie Insurance Group decided to conduct a large scale review of auto accidents in order to try to find out what the most common distracted driving problems are.

The Erie Insurance Group reviewed 65,000 case files of car accidents that occurred in 2011 and 2012. Erie Insurance Group separated out the accidents that were attributed to distracted driving, which was about 10 percent of all of the accidents total, and then took a look at the stated cause of the distracted driving crash.

Based on the review of the information, Erie Insurance Group determined that the prime cause of distracted driving was not talking on a cell phone, texting or using a mobile phone in any way. Instead the study results indicated that a full 62 percent of distracted driving crashes in the U.S. occurred because of the simple problem that drivers were “lost in thought.” Apparently, according to the study, 62 percent of all of the distracted driving crashes in 2011 and 2012 involved drivers that just happened to be daydreaming at the time of the crash. By contrast, about 12 percent of the distracted driving accidents were attributed to cell phone use.

If it seems hard to believe that 62 percent of all distracted drivers were so focused on their daydreams that they got into car accidents, there is a possible explanation that may make things a little more clear. The study focused on what the stated cause of the accident was as told to law enforcement or as determined by law enforcement based on their observations. Because many drivers may be frightened of the consequences of using a cell phone when they caused an accident, it is possible that drivers simply did not report to police that they were on the phone. As such, the incidents of simple daydreaming may have been over-reported and incidents of phone use underreported.

Regardless of whether daydreaming is the top cause of distracted driving accidents or whether cell phone use is the leading factor, it is clear that far too many of these accidents occur and that every driver needs to make a commitment to focus on the road in order to stay safe and avoid hurting others.

Call Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
South Florida Traffic Accidents & the Impact of Seat Belt Use, Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Injury Blog, April 2, 2013.

Officials Working to Protect Your Child In and Around Cars, Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Injury Blog, April 5, 2013.

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