Letting your mind wander while behind the wheel is more... Letting your mind wander while behind the wheel is more dangerous than you may think (timo_w2s, Flickr).
Car accidents caused by texting and talking on the phone have received a great deal of attention recently, but when it comes to distracted driving there is another under-reported menace: You.

A new study, released by the Erie Insurance Group just in time for Distracted Driving Awareness Month, looked at 65,000 fatal car crashes over the past two years. According to police reports, 10 percent overall were caused by distracted driving. Of those distracted driving deaths, the majority – 62 percent – were caused by a daydreaming driver.

"The results were disturbing," said Erie Senior Vice President Doug Smith.

Cell phones came in at 12 percent of fatal crashes. That's still high for a preventable cause of death but a fatal accident is five times more likely to be cause by a driver 'lost in thought' rather than cell phone use.

"Distracted driving is any activity that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off the primary task of driving," Smith said. "We hope the data will encourage people to avoid these high-risk behaviors that needlessly increase their risk of being involved in a fatal crash."

Other causes included in the study were 'rubbernecking', passengers in the car, and even pets in the vehicle. Erie cautions that this study is based on what police deemed the cause of the accidents included in the study, and since drivers are not likely to admit to distracted driving, the prevalence of distracted driving may in fact be under represented.

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