DETROIT - These days the conversation about distracted driving focuses a lot of attention on drivers texting or using their cell phones while behind the wheel. However, a new survey suggests there may be a more basic risk when you hit the road.
New research by the Erie Insurance Group found you are five times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash because you were daydreaming rather than using the phone.
"The results were disturbing," said Erie Senior Vice President Doug Smith.
The research focused on the 65,000 fatal accidents that occurred in the U.S. over the last two years.
Overall, it found 10 percent of those accidents could be blamed on some form of distracted driving, that's about the same percentage in most federal and insurance industry estimates.
It identified 62 percent of the crashes as the result of simply being "lost in thought." On the other hand, only 12 percent of those fatal accidents were blamed on some kind of mobile phone use.
Other forms of distractions included: rubbernecking (7 percent), kids or other people in the car (5 percent), reaching for an object elsewhere in the car (2 percent), and eating or drinking (2 percent).
"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," Erie Senior Vice-President Doug Smith told NBC.com. "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."
While Erie might find plenty of other distractions that can lead to fatal crashes, it continued to emphasize the need for a driver to pull over to send texts, and to avoid using cellphones while driving.
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