Because the dangers of using a cellphone while driving get so much attention, some Virginia motorists may think it is a leading cause of accidents. However, a study by Erie Insurance found that cellphones are in second place to daydreaming as a leading distraction for drivers.
The study used data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. This is a nationwide database that records motor vehicle accidents and their causes as reported by law enforcement. Researchers looked at 172,000 fatalities over five years and found distracted driving to be an element in 10 percent of them. Only 14 percent of the distracted driving accidents were caused by people using cellphones, but 61 percent happened when at least one person involved was daydreaming.
Because driving is a monotonous task, the attention of drivers naturally begins to wander. While autonomous cars should eliminate this type of error, the semi-autonomous vehicles that are currently on the road still require a driver to be attentive in case it is necessary to take over the controls. However, semi-autonomous cars tend to lull drivers into an even greater sense of security. Some companies may start to use eye tracking software to gauge driver alertness.
Motor vehicle accidents may happen for a number of other reasons besides distracted driving including speeding, driving while fatigued and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. All of these actions could lead to serious injuries. The driver who causes the accident may be found to be financially responsible for an injured victim's losses if the case goes to trial.