Not all distractions behind the wheel are active, intentional distractions. It’s easy to understand that picking up a cellphone to check social media is a distraction. The driver makes a conscious decision to engage in it, despite the risks, and does not focus on the road while using the phone.
However, studies have found that a “wandering mind” is one of the most common types of distractions. In one test, when drivers were asked about it, they reported 70% of the time that their minds were wandering. By some calculations, they were only aware of the issue in 65% of these cases, so they often started thinking about something else without even realizing what they were doing.
Think of the last time you were daydreaming while driving. Maybe you had plans to go to dinner and a concert over the weekend. On Friday, driving home from work, you started thinking about how fun the show would be, where you wanted to eat, what songs the band might play, what you were going to wear and when you wanted to line up to get to the front. If it was a date, maybe you started thinking about your romantic partner and how things would go between the two of you. You could have felt nervous or excited. No matter what, your plans really captured your attention.
That’s the type of thing that happens without even realizing it. You may not realize how distracted you are until you suddenly see that traffic stopped in front of you and there’s no time to stop.
Keeping your mind on driving can help keep you safe, but studies make it clear that a lot of drivers around you will be daydreaming. If you get injured in an accident, you may need to seek compensation.