Cell phone use while driving increasing

The risks posed by a distracted driver have been a growing concern for several years. Driving while using a cell phone, for example, was attributed to over 800 fatal car accidents in this country in 2017. The number of observed motorists using cell phones also rose, according to a survey by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute.

The IIHS conducted a survey in northern Virginia. Survey results indicated that drivers were 57 percent more likely to use a cellphone than motorists in a 2014 survey. Manipulating a phone involves more than talking and includes things such as dialing, sending texts, and browsing the web.

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However, drivers were less likely to be talking on a phone than earlier surveys. This indicates that drivers are talking less on these devices but using their features more. The number of drivers seen talking on a hand-held phone dropped from 4.1 percent in 2014 to 3.7 percent in 2018.

The IIHS estimates that manipulating a phone increases the risk of a fatal crash by 66 percent. Motorists taking part in phone conversations are likely to concentrate on the middle of the road, but it still diverts their attention from operating their vehicle.

The survey showed that 23 percent of all motorists were engaged in some type of distraction. These include talking or manipulating a hand-held phone, holding the phone, wearing Bluetooth earpieces and other headphones, adjusting an in-vehicle system, such as a radio or touchscreen display or manipulating or holding another electronic device. More traditional distractions included talking, singing, eating or drinking, smoking, grooming and reading.

Distractions were involved in 8 to 10 percent of all fatal crashes nationwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The trend has gone down from 3,526 in 2015 to 3,166 in 2017. However, experts believe that the number of accidents caused by distracted driving is underreported.

Victims of a negligent or distracted driver may be entitled to compensation. An attorney can help gather evidence and pursue a personal injury lawsuit.

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