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Distracted driving and how to prevent it

Experts believe that distracted driving may be a cause in the rise in traffic fatalities across West Virginia and the rest of the nation. Smartphones have proven to be one of the most frequent sources of distraction, with 52 percent of users stating in a Consumer Reports survey that they have texted, sent emails, browsed the Internet, and watched videos while behind the wheel.

Consumer Reports has strongly advised drivers not to text and drive, and it is illegal in many states. Some smartphone manufacturers have, for their part, introduced safety features to keep drivers from being distracted. For example, Apple systems come with a mode that blocks all alerts to incoming calls and texts. Androids and iPhones can be set so that they send automatic replies.

Automakers are also fitting their vehicles with new safety technologies like lane departure and collision warning systems. One collision avoidance system can automatically put on the emergency brakes if the driver does not respond quickly enough to its alert.

The best thing, says Consumer Reports, is for motorists to keep their eyes on the road and their hands firmly on the wheel. Smartphones, after all, are not the only distraction. Infotainment systems, radios, and temperature controls have the potential to increase the chances for an accident.

When distracted driving leads to a traffic accident, occupants of other vehicles often incur injuries that require lengthy and costly medical care. In many cases, these victims are unable to return to work while they are recovering. They might want to have an attorney's help when attempting to obtain a financial settlement from the at-fault driver's insurance company.

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