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How can daydreaming do damage while driving?

It can be all too easy to drift off into a daydream during a long car ride. After a while, the road can become monotonous. You might find yourself thinking about how good it will feel to reach your destination, stretch your legs and embark on fun adventures. Even on your commute home from work, it can be easy to imagine the comfort of your home that's waiting for you.

While it's impossible not to think about other things while you're driving, it can be dangerous to fall into a daydream when you're behind the wheel.

Daydreaming puts you at risk

People often attribute distracted driving to using a cell phone or eating. And though these factors certainly interfere with your attention to the road, distracted driving is more than glancing at your phone or taking a hand off the wheel. Anything that takes your focus away from driving, either physically or cognitively, counts as distracted driving. This includes daydreaming.

When your mind wanders, you put yourself at risk of getting into an accident. In fact, according to a 2018 study, daydreaming is the leading cause of distracted driving. And distracted driving is a major factor in serious car accidents.

How can I prevent daydreaming while driving?

With cell phones, police officers and laws alike exist to monitor and decrease the use while driving. Unfortunately, there's no one to monitor you when you start to daydream. Because it's not as obvious as picking up a cell phone, eating food or gesturing with your hands, it can be more difficult for you or your passengers to identify when your thoughts begin to wander.

It's your responsibility as a driver to stay mindful behind the wheel. So, to stay responsible and prevent daydreams from overriding your focus, here are some tips to remember:

  • Get enough sleep - It's easy to get lost in thought when you're tired. Getting plenty of sleep can help you remain alert and focused on the road.
  • Don't drive in an emotionally unstable state - Whether you're excited, angry, sad or nervous, you're more likely to give your attention to whatever made you feel that way, rather than to the road.
  • Careful what you listen to - Music, podcasts and radio shows are great ways to keep yourself entertained on the road. But they can also cause your mind to drift. Consider listening at a lower volume or turning them off altogether if you find yourself beginning to lose focus on the road.

Although daydreaming is generally harmless, remember that doing it behind the wheel can pose a threat to you and to other drivers. Staying alert and mindful of your thoughts on your car ride can help you focus on the task at hand - avoiding an accident and getting home safely.

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