Research: Daydreaming a dangerous driving distraction

There's No Substitute for Experience

One insurance group analyzed 65,000 fatal accidents that occurred between 2010 and 2011 and found one in 10 of these fatalities could be attributed to driving distracted. However, these distractions were not necessarily cellphone-related. Rather, the majority -- 62 percent -- said daydreaming was their distraction. This percentage represents five times the number of people in accidents where talking or texting played a role.

But avoiding daydreaming is not necessarily as easy as just choosing not to text or talk on a cellphone while driving. Rather, daydreaming is something our brains naturally do.

According to a recent Yahoo! article, to avoid sensory overload the brain has a short attention span. This short attention span means the brain is apt to wander. However, thinking about plans for this weekend or a dream vacation could impact a driver's reaction time and lead to an accident.

The thing with daydreaming though is that since it occurs naturally, it cannot be fully avoided. Rather, drivers can just take certain steps to minimize the amount of daydreaming or daydream in a way that may be beneficial to them.

When behind the wheel, the advice is for drivers to switch their gaze every two seconds. This will help stop the brain from continuing to wander.

Along these same lines, eating something crunchy and trying different driving routes are also recommended as ways to minimize daydreaming. Yet, when avoiding daydreaming is not possible, this is when drivers can imagine what-if driving scenarios -- like if the car in front of them suddenly stopped or a driver swerved into their lane -- and how they would react.

This type of daydreaming could end up helping to create better emergency plans for drivers.

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