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Distracted driving increases with riskier use of handheld phones

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has released a study comparing distracted driving rates between 2014 and 2018 and found that different forms of distraction are more prevalent than before. Oklahoma drivers should know that more drivers are using their phones for activities other than talking.

Researchers compared observational survey data from 2014 and 2018. These surveys were of drivers in four Northern Virginia communities, and they were observed while approaching or stopped at red lights. The study found that drivers were 57 percent more likely to engage in texting, sending emails, surfing the web and other activities besides talking. Despite this change, distracted driving rates did not change considerably between the two years.

Controlling a phone raises the risk for a fatal car crash by 66 percent. The IIHS estimates that over 800 car crash deaths occur every year in the U.S. due to phone activities besides talking. All phone use is distracting, compromising drivers' abilities to process what they see in front of them. Secondary behaviors like eating, drinking and conversing with passengers also divert one's attention.

An estimated 8 to 10 percent of all car crash deaths are due to distracted driving. However, the percentage may be higher since not all drivers are honest about their activities prior to a crash or voluntarily give law enforcement officers their phones for inspection.

While distracted driving can be hard to prove, it could still form the basis for a car accident claim. Victims may want a lawyer to evaluate their case under the state's negligence laws. If their degree of fault is less than that of the defendant's, they may be eligible for recovery. Once any proof has been gathered, the lawyer might negotiate with the auto insurance company for a settlement, litigating if one cannot be agreed upon.

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