Wisconsin motorists might be cautious about using their cellphone while they are driving, but according to one study, a greater danger may come from drivers who daydream instead of keeping their thoughts and eyes on the road ahead. Erie Insurance looked at national data for fatalities over five years and found that more accidents in which distracted driving was a factor involved daydreaming than cellphones.
Of the 172,000 fatalities, roughly 10 percent happened because of distracted driving. In 61 percent of those cases, at least one driver was daydreaming. Cellphones were in second place but were the cause of a much smaller percentage of distracted driving deaths at 14 percent.
Erie has done the study several times and consistently reached similar conclusions, and it is a difficult problem to tackle. The inherent monotony of driving causes people’s minds to wander. While autonomous vehicles may eliminate this particular hazard, the semi-autonomous cars currently available seem to make this particular problem worse. These cars still require backup drivers who may need to take control, but the drivers tend to get lulled into a false sense of security. Tesla Autopilot uses alerts to try to keep drivers attentive while other companies are looking at eye tracking technology.
Unfortunately, despite these measures, human drivers will probably keep daydreaming and fully autonomous vehicles will not be on the roads for some time. In the meantime, human error will continue to cause the majority of motor vehicle accidents. When negligent driving causes an accident and a person is injured, the negligent driver may be liable for that person’s expenses. Unfortunately, insurance companies may not always be eager to pay, or drivers may not have insurance at all. An attorney might be able to assist an injured person by negotiating compensation or by filing a lawsuit.