Ask almost anyone what the No. 1 driving distraction is in Colorado, and they’ll quickly pick texting and driving. We have all seen someone weaving around on the road as they try to send a text to their friend saying they’ll be there soon — and we’ve all wondered if, driving so poorly, they really will get there at all.

Some people may be a little more broad in their guesses, saying that the No. 1 distraction is just the phone in general. They understand that it’s not only texting. People cause accidents while taking selfies, recording videos, browsing Facebook, watching movies and even playing games in the car. You name it. If the phone can do it, someone has tried to do it while driving and caused a serious crash.

The true top reason

All of the issues noted above are real, and they are dangerous. Never engage in these behaviors. Attempt to keep your distance from drivers who do. Understand the local traffic laws and exactly what it takes to stay safe.

That said, none of the things mentioned above are the true No. 1 driving distraction, at least according to an insurance company study of Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data that was reported on in Forbes in 2019. That study gave the top spot by a good margin to something far more basic: daydreaming behind the wheel.

Quite simply, the study found that drivers got lost in thought as they drove, becoming generally distracted with no clear cause, like a cellphone. They just stopped thinking about driving. This is perhaps most common when drivers get bored. Their minds wander, with no conscious decision on their part, and they think about all manner of other things — conversations at work, movies they want to see, what they plan to eat for dinner, what they’re going to do over the weekend break, etc.

Part of the issue here is that the number of topics is endless. People can get distracted by almost anything, so there’s no singular fix for this problem. The only solution is for them to understand the role that daydreaming plays and to actively commit to staying focused on the road at all times.

A note about FARS data

The FARS data is very important and useful, as it comes in part from the police officers who actually show up at fatal crash sites. This is first-hand information. That said, Forbes noted that it is based on interviews that the officers conducted and that it is “based largely on police officers’ judgment at the time of a crash.” As with all judgment calls, mistakes could occur. Still, it shows a disturbing trend.

Your options

Have you gotten into an accident with a distracted driver and suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one? If so, be sure you understand exactly what options you have.

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