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More risky phone use leads to more distracted driving

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has released a study linking distracted driving with the increased use of handheld phones for other activities than talking. West Virginia residents should be aware that these other activities are far riskier than talking on the phone because they tend to take a driver's eyes off the road.

After comparing observational surveys made in 2014 and 2018 of drivers in four Northern Virginia communities, researchers found that drivers were 57 percent more likely to be texting, surfing the web or doing something else with their phones than talking on them. The drivers in the survey were observed while moving or stopped at red lights.

There was no marked increase in distracted driving between the two survey years. However, using the phone for anything other than talking led to more than 800 car crash deaths in the U.S. in 2017 according to IIHS estimates. In general, controlling a phone raises the risk for fatal car crashes by 66 percent.

During phone conversations, drivers' eyes tend to focus on the center of the roadway, but drivers will be less able to process what they see. Even eating, drinking and talking with passengers can be distracting. About 8 to 10 percent of all car crash fatalities are attributed to distracted driving. This percentage may be greater due to flawed data collection.

Those who are injured in a car crash through little or no fault of their own may file a personal injury claim and, if successful, be compensated for their losses. These losses might include medical expenses, property damage, lost income and pain and suffering. After evaluating the case for the victim, a lawyer may hire third parties to gather evidence of the defendant's guilt. The lawyer may also handle settlement negotiations with the auto insurance company.

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