Your spouse got hit by a distracted driver. Your family is now facing lost income, high medical bills and a lot of other costs. Even though you’re relieved that doctors say your spouse will recover, everything is certainly not okay.
What you keep turning over in your mind is how easy it is to avoid distraction. Can’t people just pay attention for that 10-minute drive to the store or the 20-minute commute to work? Is that really too much to ask? Other people’s lives — as well as your own — are on the line.
You’ve probably also heard plenty about common driving distractions. Some drivers keep texting away on their cellphones. Others start taking selfies and checking Instagram on their smartphones. Still others chat with friends, listen to loud music, punch in new directions on the GPS and eat their breakfast while they drive.
Certainly, these are all good examples of distractions. One might even be the reason your spouse got hit. But what is more important is the real cause of many distractions: boredom.
The root cause
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Erie Insurance teamed up to study the data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Their goal was to find out why distractions kept happening.
Conjecture in the public is often that cellphones are the biggest distractions, but the FARS data did not back that up. Instead, the data showed that most accidents — a full 62 percent — happened due to unspecified internal distraction. That’s really a fancy way of saying the person’s mind was wandering. He or she was daydreaming.
Phones did come in second in the study. They only accounted for 12 percent of the deadly wrecks, though. That’s a vast gulf between the two.
Do we think driving is too easy?
The reason drivers get bored and daydream is often that they feel like driving is easy. That driver who hit your spouse may have taken that same route twice a day for the last 20 years. It becomes automatic and mind-numbing. Driving is a learned skill; remember how nervous you felt the first time driving with a parent? With enough practice, though, it becomes repetitious and boring.
When this boredom sets in, drivers try to cure it. That could lead them to crank up the music, check their text messages, daydream about the weekend, take pictures while they drive or grab something to eat and drink. They crave a distraction from the boredom.
Unfortunately, that’s also a distraction from the road, and it leads to numerous accidents. No matter how easy driving feels, it’s still potentially deadly when something goes wrong. Those who get injured, and their family members, must know what to do in the wake of an accident.