Americans are using their phones in riskier ways while driving leading to more fatal and devastating car accidents. According to a USA Today news report, a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that although overall cell phone on the road is down, drivers were still observed manipulating their phones 57 percent more often in 2018 than they were in 2014. This means more people are putting themselves at a much higher risk of dying in a car crash. “Manipulating cell phones” means they are doing things like texting, browsing the Web or using it for navigation or music.
What the Study Shows
IIHS estimates that about 800 people were killed in car accidents in 2017 due to drivers who were using their phones for something other than a phone call. The findings of this study are significant because researchers have found it difficult in the past to evaluate the effects of distracted driving. IIHS experts were able to track the problem by positioning researchers on the side of the road at traffic lights, roundabouts and straight sections of the road. Researchers recorded what drivers were doing as they passed by.
Researchers found that one in four drivers was doing something other than focusing on the road. This study adds credence to suspicions that the increase nationwide in deadly crashes over the past few years is due in part to cell phone use while driving. Research shows that using your phone for something other than a call while driving increases your crash risk by about 66 percent. Car accidents in the U.S. decreased slightly in 2017, but still reflected the second deadliest year on the road in the past 10 years.
Preventing Distracted Driving
There are a number of steps you can take to prevent distracted driving, especially distractions caused by smartphones and other in-vehicle devices:
- Put your cell phone away in a place where you cannot see it. This way, you will not be tempted to look at it when it rings or dings. Put it in the vehicle’s trunk or in the back seat where you won’t be able to access it.
- Set your navigation, temperature control and music before you get on the road. Fidgeting with these devices could also result in a crash, especially if you take your hands off the wheel or eyes off the roadway.
- Download apps that send out a message to those who are trying to reach you when you are driving, which will clearly state you are driving and will get back to them when you reach your destination.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver, please contact an experienced California car accident lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.