Posted On: January 31, 2013 by Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy

Research Links Wandering Minds to Higher Auto Accident Risks

alarm%20clock.jpgDaydreaming while driving is something that almost all of us are guilty of, but such activities can significantly increase the risk of an accident. French researchers recently conducted an analysis of close to 1000 car accidents, and found that mind wandering was linked to a significant proportion of these accidents.

Mind wandering refers to the temporary zoning out that usually occurs when a person is performing repetitive tasks, or is in a rested state. In a state of mind wandering, the person is thinking about something other than the task at hand, and therefore, his attention is diverted away from the task at hand. Such daydreaming may not be harmless in other situations. However, when the person is driving, daydreaming could actually increase the risk of an accident.

For instance, a person who is daydreaming may be much more likely to miss certain cues that could alert him to the risk of an accident. In addition, the researchers believe that a person who is daydreaming is also much more likely to make dangerous driving errors.

Researchers at the University of Bordeaux, France analyzed close to 1000 car accidents that ended in injuries and tried to link these accidents with daydreaming. They determined the level of daydreaming by asking two very pointed questions about what the respondents were thinking at the time of the crash. The questions were presented in 2 very different ways, to negate the effect of bias.

They found that in more than half of the accidents, the drivers admitted to some form of mind wandering at the time of the accident. However, not all the daydreaming was severe enough to cause an accident. In just about 121 cases, the researchers determined that the daydreaming was seriously distracting.

Obviously, this raises interesting questions for those who claim that a ban on cell phone use while driving or texting while driving will eliminate all forms of distractions at the wheel. As this research shows, there are multiple facets to distracted driving, and daydreaming while at the wheel is just one part of it.

Unfortunately, there seems to be little that we can do to reduce daydreaming among motorists. However what the federal administration can do is ensure that all automobiles are equipped with safety devices that reduce the risk of accidents due to distractions or driving errors. For instance, forward collision warning systems that alert a motorist when there is an object, a pedestrian or car in the path of the vehicle, or lane departure warning systems that sound an audible alert when the person is in danger of veering off his lane, could help reduce the risk of such accidents.

The Indiana personal injury lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy LLP represent persons injured in car accidents across Indiana.