Mind Wandering Linked To Greater Likelihood Of Being Responsible For A Car Crash

A number of studies have found a link between external distractions, such as using a cell phone, and higher risk of a car crash.

This French study investigated what effect internal distraction would have on the likelihood that a driver was responsible for a motor vehicle crash.

Researchers interviewed 955 drivers injured in a motor vehicle crash about their thoughts just prior to the crash and they collected information about other factors, such as alcohol use, that could also contribute to a crash.

A six-factor scale was used to determine whether or not the driver could be held responsible for the crash. Of the participants, 47% were defined as being responsible for the crash. Over half of the injured drivers reported some degree of mind wandering before the crash and 121 of them reported highly distracting/disrupting thoughts.

Those who reported highly distracting/disrupting mind wandering had 2.17-fold higher odds of being responsible for the crash than people who did not report mind wandering.

In comparison, having external distractions was associated with 46% higher odds of being responsible for the crash, having highly negative feelings with 62% higher odds, the use of psychotropic drugs (anxiety, depression, and sleep medications) with 80% higher odds, sleep disruption with 2.52-fold higher odds, and alcohol use with 2.26-fold higher odds.