Common Distractions That Cause Fatal Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gathers data regarding every fatal motor vehicle accident that occurs in the United States. When the data from the past two years was analyzed, it showed that 10 percent of deadly crashesinvolved a distracted driver. More than 10,000 people died when drivers took their eyes off the road or otherwise directed their attention away from the act of driving their vehicles. While cell phones are commonly blamed for distracted driving, there are countless ways in which drivers lose focus and end up in a fatal car crash.

A Pennsylvania insurance company analyzed all the crash data from 2010 and 2011 to better understand distracted driving behaviors that lead to fatal wrecks. The company identified the top 10 distractions identified by police in deadly crashes. By far the most common type of distraction listed by police was general distraction, or simply put, being lost in thought while driving. It does not take an event or an electronic device to cause a driver to lose focus. More than 60 percent of fatal accidents involved a driver who was daydreaming.

Cell phone use was the second most commonly cited cause of distraction. Whether they were texting, dialing, talking or listening to cell phones, drivers using these devices accounted for 12 percent of distracted drivers involved in fatal car crashes. No other type of distraction was listed more than 10 percent of the time.

Eliminating cell phone use would certainly have a positive impact on road safety. It is far from the whole story, though. Drivers need to recognize the importance of attentive driving. Daydreaming can be fatal. The families of the more than 4,000 people to lose their lives in accidents involving drivers who were simply lost in thought can attest to that.

Source: Insurance Journal, “Insurer Analyzes Top 10 Driving Distractions Involved in Fatal Car Crashes,” 4 April 2013