Daydreaming Behind the Wheel Just As Dangerous As Texting

driving-1434211-639x424-300x200For many drivers, it is second nature, especially when they are on a familiar and long commute. Daydreaming or letting the mind wander when you’re behind the wheel, is a far more common activity than many of us realize. It is also extremely dangerous and can place you at high risk of being involved in a severe accident.

A new study finds that most people daydream while driving, and many don’t even realize that their mind has been wandering. Researchers put participants in driving simulation and monitored the electrical activity in their brains. The simulations were routine and were designed to mimic the participants’ commute home. Earlier studies also show that people’s minds are much more likely to wander when they are driving on a long and familiar route, than when they are on an unfamiliar route. In this particular study, the participants’ minds wandered approximately 70% of the time, while they were aware of the distraction only 65% of the time.

Such high levels of distraction can be hazardous behind the wheel, even though they do not involve the use of an electronic device. A driver doesn’t have to be sending a text or e-mail to be so distracted that you cause an accident. Being so mentally distracted that you fail to spot a vehicle entering from your right, or other such accident cues can prove equally devastating.

Distraction can be defined as a lack of alertness or lack of attention to the task of driving, and daydreaming causes a substantial lack of such recognition. Earlier studies found that daydreaming drivers are up to five-times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident than those using an electronic device at the wheel. That makes daydreaming while driving even more dangerous than texting while driving.

Daydreaming may be a common problem, but it is by no means an insurmountable one. Experts suggest that drivers try to maintain alertness by interacting with the environment. A mind that is distracted is unable to spot accident cues. To prevent your mind from wandering, imagine what would happen if the car in front you suddenly came to a stop, or a pedestrian suddenly ducked into the path of your vehicle. Imagining these types of scenarios could help your mind revive and become more alert.

Experts also suggest eating something, especially something crunchy like peanuts to keep alert.

If possible, use different routes even when your destination is the same. Driving the same long commute every day could cause the mind to wander. Driving a modified road requires you to maintain a level of mental alertness.

Most importantly, avoid staring at the road ahead of you for long periods of time – frequent movement of the eyeballs can reduce the risk of the mind wandering.

Whatever method you might choose to stay focused while you drive, make sure that you are keeping yourself, your passengers and other Indiana drivers safe.

The Indiana car accident lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP represent persons injured in car accidents across Indiana. Contact our office today if you or a loved one has been injured as a result of the inattention of another Indiana driver. Your available time to pursue a claim can be limited. Do not delay. Contact our firm today.