While New Jersey continues to crack down on distracted driving by handled cell phone use, a new study shows that might not be our biggest problem.  What is?  Daydreaming.

Flickr User Timo Newtown-Syms

The Erie Insurance Group study of 65,000 fatal crashes in 2012 found distractions played a role 10 percent of the time, with daydreaming being involved in a significant number of them.

The study identified three main forms of distractions:

  • Cognitive Distractions:  Not paying 100 percent attention to what is in front of you while driving.
  • Manual Distractions:  Playing with a radio or a cell phone while driving.
  • Visual Distractions:  Eyes not on the road.  Looking at something else, looking out the window, or at a cell phone.

Cognitive distraction, like daydreaming, was five times more prevalent than cell phone misuse, which is labeled under manual distractions.

"Our study showed that the most common definition of what actually was a contributing factor in an accident with a fatality happened to do with just simply daydreaming," said Erie Insurance Group Vice President Doug Smith.

The study found visual distractions came in third on the fatal cause list.

Smith said, "It's important for us as drivers to stay aware of the risks.  I think we need to avoid the temptation to engage in more than one form of distraction at a particular time and of course we also need to serve as a role model for others."