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Study shows drivers using phones in riskier ways

Distracted driving rates may or may not be increasing in Oklahoma specifically, but there is no doubt that drivers are using their phones in riskier ways than before. This is according to a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Researchers looked at two observational surveys that involved drivers in four Northern Virginia communities as they approached and stopped at red lights.

The surveys were conducted in 2014 and 2018. It turns out that while drivers in 2014 used their phones primarily to talk, drivers in 2018 were 57% likelier to use them for texting and other activities than talking. Since these activities completely take a driver’s eyes off the road, it’s not surprising that when someone operating a vehicle is using his or her phone, it increases the risk of a fatal car crash occurring by 66%.

By contrast, talking on the phone is mainly a cognitive distraction and tends to focus a driver’s eyes on the center of the road. Of course, any phone use behind the wheel is dangerous and should be avoided. The study found that in both surveys, drivers became distracted even by simple actions like drinking coffee or talking with passengers.

About 8% to 10% of all crash deaths are due to distracted driving. Some argue that distracted driving is an underreported phenomenon since drivers can easily lie about it.

Drivers who call or text, though, will find that the phone records tell a different story from the one they make up. Individuals who are injured in car accidents can file a claim as long as their own degree of fault is less than the defendant’s. Victims may want to hire a lawyer to help them build up the case with evidence like phone records and the police report. An attorney may then negotiate on their behalf for a settlement.