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Report identifies daydreaming as major road safety hazard

Road safety experts often blame New York distracted driving accidents on the popularity of cellphones and other mobile electronic equipment. However, a study released by Erie Insurance to coincide with Distracted Driving Awareness Month suggests that daydreaming may actually be an even greater hazard for road users. Researchers studied accidents in the United States that claimed 172,000 lives over the last five years, and they determined that 61 percent of the distracted driving crashes involved a motorist who was lost in thought.

While accidents caused by distracted drivers accounted for one in 10 of all road deaths during the period studied, only 14 percent of the motorists involved were using a cellphone at the time, according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System database maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, the reliability of this information has been questioned by road safety advocates. The NHTSA tracks accident statistics to provide crucial information to the public and government agencies, but much of the data is gathered from police reports and based on interviews conducted at accident scenes.

Experts question this approach because distracted drivers have usually collected themselves before first responders arrive, and they may be reluctant to admit to police officers that it was their negligent actions that caused a fatal car accident. Automakers are doing their part to address the issue by developing systems that monitor drivers and issue warnings when their eyes wander from the road ahead.

Many modern vehicles are fitted with electronic data recorders that can provide experienced personal injury attorneys with valuable information when their clients may have been injured by distracted drivers. Attorneys seeking evidence of distraction could also review cellphone records and social media activities of negligent drivers.

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