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Your mind wanders as your brain sorts information while you drive

Have you ever pulled into the driveway to discover that you remember almost none of the drive home? Or have you ever felt surprised as you drive up to the back of a traffic jam, having to slam on the brakes and realizing you were not paying enough attention?

It happens. When you're a new driver, the activity seems engaging, exciting, risky and complicated. That helps you pay attention. Quickly, though, driving starts to feel mundane and even boring. That's when your brain may check out.

Remember, your brain constantly has to sort the information that it gets from your senses. Some information is more important than other information, and it attempts to decide what is important so that you can focus on those areas. When driving starts to feel boring, your brain may decide that watching the road all of the time is not all that crucial. Intellectually, if someone asked you, you'd know how important it was. As your brain automatically filters information, though, it may allow your attention to drift away.

The risk here is when something unexpected happens. You may drive through the same commute twice a day for years without really thinking about it. Then, one day, someone cuts you off and doesn't give you enough space. You're thinking about what you plan to do with your kids in the evening, and then suddenly you're plowing into the back of that car that you never saw coming.

Staying focused is hard, but it is possible. Unfortunately, daydreaming drivers are everywhere -- even if you don't do it yourself. These drivers can cause accidents, and you need to know what rights you have if you get injured.

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Redwood City, CA 94061

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