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Many people in Illinois know the dangers of texting, surfing or otherwise using a mobile phone while behind the wheel. Legislative changes, public awareness campaigns and harsh enforcement programs have all been targeted to wipe out distracted driving linked to cell phone and tablet use while driving. However, distracted driving is not only a technological problem as most distractions that can affect drivers to the point of causing severe crashes are not linked to the use of mobile devices. Indeed, daydreaming, inattentiveness or other thoughts can be some of the most common causes of crashes involving a distracted driver.

One study examined data over five years stored in the national Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which includes information gathered by local police about the cause of the reported car accidents. Of the 172,000 fatalities linked to crashes analyzed by researchers, 1 in 10 was ascribed to distracted driving. While many people’s minds may instantly turn to mobile phone use, cell phones were linked to only 14 percent of the distracted driving crashes. The top spot, involved in 61 percent of the accidents recorded, was held by general inattentiveness, including daydreaming or persistent distracting thoughts.

Daydreaming and distraction are ingrained in human nature, so there is no easy way to find a regulatory solution to this type of problem. Many people look toward technologies that could help to keep drivers alert behind the wheel, including collision avoidance alarms and automatic emergency braking.

These statistics may not show the full impact of distracted driving, which can be underreported by local law enforcement when making reports. Even when crashes are not fatal, these auto accidents can lead to severe injuries and permanent disabilities. A personal injury lawyer can work with people injured by someone else’s distracted driving to seek compensation for their damages.