Nearly all drivers daydream behind the wheel - study

If you drove home from work today, new research suggests there's a 90 per cent chance you were daydreaming most of the way.

New road crash statistics show we often switch to autopilot when we're close to home.

University of Waikato transport researcher Bridget Burdett says the study tapped in to drivers' thoughts.

"I sat in the car and asked what they were thinking about every few minutes. We found that drivers aren't thinking about driving close to 90 percent of the time when they're on a familiar trip like the daily commute."

The first in depth study of crashes that result in injury has confirmed the so-called 'close to home effect'.

Half of all our travel is within 11 kilometres from home, but it's within seven kilometres from home where half of our injury crashes happen.

The study found that's the area in which we're most likely to be daydreaming, distracted by cellphones or food.

Alcohol is also a 'close to home' factor. The likelihood of drunk drivers crashing doubles when they're within 5 km of home

The psychology behind the research has found that our minds have to be flexible while driving, not thinking specifically about how to drive the whole time, but also things like where you're going.

It found both men and women were equally likely to daydream  but Ms Burdett says there's one group who buck the trend.

"Learner drivers are the only ones we found that don't have this close to home effect, they just crash where they travel, and we think this might be because in New Zealand learner drivers are supervised. They've literally got someone sitting there saying concentrate, pay attention."

That's something you may now want to remind yourself, because chances are the driver next to you is daydreaming.