I think at one point each of us has let their mind wander while driving, but most of us can still pay attention to the road at the same time. Well, maybe not all of us.

New research culled from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, analyzing which states are most at risk from fatal crashes due to daydreaming or otherwise distracted driving.

According to personal injury lawyer John Fitch, drivers may daydream or become distracted on the road for several reasons, such as the monotony of driving through long stretches of unchanging scenery, sleepiness that leads to lapses in attention, or combatting stress that can divert their attention.

Rude black woman driver arguing and driving car
Photo via tommaso79

New Mexico was found to have had the most incidents involving drivers who were daydreaming. Out of 2,790 fatal car crashes, 673 involved drivers who were distracted or daydreaming. This is nearly a quarter of all fatal incidents in the state, which is 585% above the national average (3.5%).

The next state with the most deadly incidents was Hawaii, with 99 out of 687 (14.4%) fatal incidents involved distracted or daydreaming drivers.

New Jersey came a close third, with 13.53% of incidents involving distracted drivers, or 567 out of 4,191.


Data was gathered by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) motor vehicle crash data report. The findings took the total numbers of drivers in fatal crashes between 2017-2021, and compared it against the number drivers in fatal crashes who fit the following filter:

Driver Distracted By-Driver: Distraction/Careless; or Careless/Inattentive; or Distraction (Distracted), Details Unknown; or Inattention (Inattentive), Details Unknown; or Lost in Thought / Day dreaming; or Other Distraction; Person Type: Driver

I didn’t know that they kept stats on daydreaming drivers, the NHTSA apparently does and we’re doing a lot of it.

Somewhat surprisingly, at least to me, is that New York has the second fewest incidences of daydreaming/distracted driving (only S. Car. Had fewer).

LOOK: Most dangerous states to drive in

Stacker used the Federal Highway Administration's 2020 Highway Statistics report to rank states by the fatalities per billion miles traveled. 

Gallery Credit: Katherine Gallagher

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Stacker compiled a list of the counties with the highest unemployment in New Jersey using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Counties are ranked by unemployment rate in November 2023.

Gallery Credit: Stacker

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