You've probably done in yourself -- zoning out behind the wheel. Maybe it happened on a street you drive down every day. Suddenly, you pulled up to a stop sign and realized you had no memory of driving down the entire street. You'd been lost in your thoughts, barely watching the road.
This is pretty common, and some reports indicate that it leads to a high percentage of accidents. A report from 2012 was based on 1,000 accidents, and it found that about 500 of them happened because drivers just weren't paying attention.
The reasons weren't always complex. Some just felt their minds wander, thinking about everything else that was going on in their lives. Others were actively worrying about things -- like paying the rent, for example -- while still others were just daydreaming. The person's thoughts didn't have to be particularly meaningful or important, but they could still be enough to cause them to look away from the road.
Researchers at the time did express worries about the issue. While other distractions are easier to regulate -- you can make it illegal to text and drive, for instance -- it's impossible to stop people from thinking.
The researchers did note that there were certain things that triggered this phenomenon. Repetitive tasks, for instance, caused people's minds to wander, meaning it really may be more dangerous to drive down the same stretch of road every day. You could end up knowing it so well that you're not paying enough attention.
If another driver was lost in thought and crashed into your vehicle, you could be facing life-long injuries, high medical bills, weeks or months of lost wages, and more. Be sure to look into your options for compensation.
Source: Health Day, "Mind Wandering Drives Up Crash Rate," Steven Reinberg, accessed Dec. 15, 2016