The Leading Cause of Fatal Distracted Driving Accidents isn't Cellphones

7 May 2013

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 May 7, 2013
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Category: Car Accidents

texting while drivingWhile much media attention has been placed on the dangers of texting while driving, including many public service announcements and grisly stories, a new study shows that texting is not the activity that causes most distracted driving accidents.

Instead, being “lost in thought” has been shown to be the leading cause for fatal distracted driving accidents.

Lost in Thought vs. Cell Phone Use

The new research was conducted by Erie Insurance. It analyzed data from police reports regarding 65,000 fatal car accidents that had occurred within the last two years.

Out of these accidents, approximately 10 percent were the result of distracted driving. The at-fault drivers claimed that they were lost in thought for 62 percent of the accidents.

Lost in thought accidents occurred when drivers failed to recognize a dangerous curve ahead of them, slammed into another vehicle in front of them, went through a red light or committed some other driver error.

In spite of the wealth of information regarding cell phone use while driving, only 12 percent of fatalities were attributed to this distraction according to the study.

Other Causes of Distracted Driving Fatalities

Being lost in thought correlated to a five times more probable cause for distracted driving than any other reason.

Other causes for distracted driving included rubbernecking (7 percent), distractions caused by other occupants in the vehicle (5 percent), reaching for an object in the car (2 percent) and eating or drinking (2 percent). Another 1 percent of fatalities were attributed to minor distractions, such as adjusting the controls for the heater or radio. Pets were the cause of another 1 percent of fatal distracted driving accidents.

Problems with Data

Although this data can provide insight into the causes for distracted driving, it is worth noting that there may be flaws in the compilation.

For example, a driver is a casualty in over 50 percent of fatal automotive accidents. If they died before the police could interview them about the cause of the accident, then there is a significant amount of missing information from the study.

Additionally, at-fault drivers may be more likely to admit to being lost in thought before an accident than violating a state or local law banning the use of mobile devices behind the wheel.

Put Our Tampa Personal Injury Lawyers’ 100+ Years of Experience to Work for You!

If you were hurt in a distracted driving accident, a Tampa injury lawyer may be able to help. Call Abrahamson & Uiterwyk today at 1-813-324-5202 for a free case evaluation.