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The lethal trend of daydreaming in the car

When you think of the dangers you face on the road, how far up the list are distracted drivers? These days, they’re certainly a common concern. People have far more awareness of the risks of texting and driving or talking to passengers while they drive. That doesn’t mean they don’t do these things on a regular basis — spend a little time watching other drivers and it won’t take long to see plenty of distractions any time you drive — but they at least know it’s dangerous.

Interestingly, though, they may miss one of the biggest distractions of all, something that does not get nearly as much press: daydreaming.

That’s right; when people daydream while they drive, it’s a distraction. Remember, driving is a mental challenge as much as a physical one. You can look at the road and hold the wheel, but if you’re not really thinking about what you’re doing, then you are not really in control of the car.

What is daydreaming?

In a general sense, daydreaming can be almost anything. It just means your mind wanders. Thinking about your plans for the weekend? You’re daydreaming. Thinking about your assignments at work or at school? That’s daydreaming, as well. You’re just not thinking about the road. You’re not thinking about the cars around you.

“Daydreaming is defined in FARS (Fatality Analysis Reporting System) data as drivers who are generally distracted,” one expert said in an interview in Forbes. [They’re] inattentive, careless, or lost in thought.”

That’s the crux of it: They’re inattentive. Defining exactly what it is doesn’t carry as much weight as simply acknowledging that driving takes focus. It takes attention. Any time that a driver does not give it that concentration, as their thoughts wander to literally anything else, that’s a problem. That’s what causes accidents.

How long does it take?

Your mind can definitely wander without warning and without you intentionally taking your thoughts away from the road. It just happens. Suddenly, you snap back into reality and realize you stopped paying attention. It’s not a conscious decision.

With that in mind, how long does someone have to stop thinking about driving for it to count? The same experts noted that there is no “specific amount of time” that constituted daydreaming. A driver could stop thinking about the road for 10 seconds or 10 minutes. The longer it goes on, the more risk there is, but even a short incident is still daydreaming and is still dangerous.

Your rights

Have you gotten injured by a distracted, daydreaming driver? If so, you need to understand all of the legal options you have to seek financial compensation for your injuries.