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The surprising No. 1 reason for distracted driving

Do you think texting is the biggest reason for distracted driving? In some senses, you may be right. Cellphone use, in general, is connected to a high percentage of distracted driving accidents. When the driver is doing something to create the distraction, it's the top reason.

But what about when the driver isn't actually doing anything? One study found that cellphones were linked to just 12 percent of distracted driving accidents, while a full 62 percent were linked to drivers who were "lost in thought."

That, the researchers claimed, showed the real reason for distracted driving: complacency.

Driving is easy

Many people drive so often they start to feel like it's so easy. How many other things do you practice for an hour a day, 30 minutes in the morning and 30 at night? If you have a 30-minute commute to work, that exactly what you do.

Driving is boring

This sense of ease then leads drivers to feel bored. Remember when you were 15 and holding the wheel with white knuckles as you drove along (with a parent) at 45 miles per hour, traffic backing up behind you? Now you're 35 and you're furious if someone is going 45 in the 55-mile-per hour zone. You can do that in your sleep.

Forgetting the danger

The biggest issue here is that people stop thinking about how they're going at speeds that would have terrified ordinary people just a few hundred years ago. They stop thinking about how holding the wheel with just two fingers means they have only two fingers in control of a 4,000-pound machine that could kill them with the slightest mistake.

They forget about the danger. Accident statistics and reports don't stop it. You can see all the stats you want, but you know you've been easily driving to and from work for 10 years. Every day, you go the same speed on the same route. It becomes impossible to imagine getting in a wreck.


And that brings the whole thing back to complacency. Bored drivers tend to daydream while they drive. They get lost in thought. They start to check their cellphones. They think it's safe to read a text message.

Even if they know it's dangerous, they technically don't feel like it's dangerous in that moment. Your mind doesn't wander when you're dialed into the task at hand. It wanders when you're bored and you just wish you were already home. That's when distractions take over, and that's when accidents happen.

Car crashes

It's no surprise that distracted driving leads to so many car accidents, and there are complacent drivers all around you on your commute. Be sure you know your options if you're involved in a wreck.

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