Road Danger Surprise

Daydreaming and driving is deadlier than texting behind the wheel

Daydreaming and driving is deadlier than texting behind the wheel

Photo illustration by Jan-Pieter Zuiderveen

We've had it wrong all this time. It's not the impromptu karaoke session in the driver's seat that's causing crashes. It's not the texting and driving epidemic. It's not even drunk driving.

The real problem is a plain old case of daydreaming. 

This revelation comes from Erie Insurance, a Pennsylvania-based insurance company that analyzed the most common distractions and found that 62 percent of drivers involved in fatal car crashes were just "generally distracted or lost in thought."

That's far above cellphone use (12 percent) and rubbernecking (7 percent) and distraction from eating or drinking (just 2 percent).

"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," says Doug Smith, senior vice president of personal lines at the insurance company. 

Get your head out of the clouds! No more wanderlusting on the way home from the office! No more making your dinner menu in rush-hour traffic!

Smith acknowledges, though, that the data is based largely on the testimonies of persons involved and the judgment of police officers following a crash — so don't reach for a roadie just yet.

That, like texting, can wait.