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Muscle Memory Related to Automobile Accidents

Don’t get too comfortable with your daily driving routine; you may end up too comfortable with it. The retention of motor skills is your muscle’s ability to “remember” certain actions through repetition and prepare the necessary muscles for activity beforehand and keep them working with little to no conscious forethought required.

Muscle memory” This is a term that I hear all the time, but it’s almost always used in a neutral way. Very rarely do I hear someone use it in a negative context, but I can think of a handful of scenarios in which relying on muscle memory could lead to serious injuries.

You’re taking a nap on the couch and a fly is “bugging” you; you don’t even have to think about it—your brain has a pretty good idea of what you’ve done in the past when a fly harassed you. And there you are, sound asleep, yet swatting at a fly. These subconscious responses are only developed after many, many times of responding consciously—unless of it’s your natural instinct, which is a response you’re born with instead.

When you purchase a new cell phone, you cradle it like a newborn baby, doing anything to ensure its protection and safety. When you get a new pair of shoes, you keep them cleaner than when they were in the store. The same thing goes for everything else; humans have a tendency to show the most care and attention to things that are new and exciting to them in an effort to prevent losing them.

Once you’ve spent a reasonable amount of time posing as the security guard for your new cell phone, you start to grow comfortable with it. It’s not new anymore; you know what it can take and you’re not as scared to damage it. This gradual change of attitude is the indirect cause of cracked cell phone screens and dirty shoes.

What does all of this have to do with personal injury law and driving?

Adverse Side Effects to this Natural Behavior

When learning how to drive, most people are very nervous. There’s a whole lot of power in their hands and they can decide what to do with it and when. There are a handful of new controls, mechanisms, and techniques they need to learn, and it can certainly be scary. With a proper learning environment (like Driver’s Education), a new driver can get some great experience in a safe place.

I believe that the best drivers are those who have had plenty of time to learn every aspect of driving, but haven’t quite engraved it in their muscle memory yet.

Why is that?

When driving becomes a subconscious or secondary activity, accidents are bound to happen. Drivers become comfortable with driving. I know how the pedal feels; I know which angle I must pull into my driveway to avoid scraping my front bumper; it just comes naturally because I’ve done it so many times.

When you’re comfortable with driving, you’re not under stress. If you’re not under stress, you’ve got plenty of wiggle room to do what you want when you drive. This leads to texting, eating, applying makeup, and more.

“I don’t need to look at the road because I’ve driven it so many times; I’ve memorized this path!”

While that may be a bit extreme, it could be the back-of-your-mind reasoning behind distracted driving. Perhaps you think you can take your eyes off of the road for 5 seconds because this road is nothing new to you; you know it like the back of your hand. This is what leads me to believe that muscle memory plays a large role in car accidents.

Remember that pothole in the road straight ahead? You don’t even need to think about it; your brain is doing all the work while you browse Facebook.

This is a poor attitude to have while driving. I try to make it a point to—at any given moment—be prepared for the worst while on the road.


Regardless of how or why someone was distracted, motor vehicle accidents change lives. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your physical, mental, emotional, or monetary losses.

In the state of Florida, Personal Injury Protection is a mandatory branch of auto insurance. Do you need assistance with filing a PIP claim after an accident? Have you filed your claim but it was wrongly denied? You could be involved in a difficult and stressful situation that no amount of internet reading will repair. Instead, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA for a free consultation and case evaluation.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756

Practice Area: Distracted Driving