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Crash risk rises as drivers use phones less for talking

While drivers in New Jersey and across the U.S. continue to use their phones behind the wheel, what they use them for is changing. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety studied observational surveys in 2014 and 2018 of drivers who approached or were stopped at red lights in four Northern Virginia communities, and the results of that study are as follows.

Drivers were 57 percent more likely to be found using their phones for activities that excluded talking. These activities include texting, sending emails and surfing the web. These, experts believe, pose a greater risk for distraction than talking since they take drivers' eyes entirely off the road.

Distracted driving rates between the two years were more or less steady. However, controlling a phone raises the risk for a fatal car crash by 66 percent. The IIHS estimates that these phone activities that exclude talking are to blame for more than 800 auto accident deaths every year in the U.S.

Secondary activities, like drinking or talking with passengers, prove distracting too. Distracted driving only accounts for an estimated 8 to 10 percent of car crash fatalities. However, the number may be higher since not all drivers are honest about what they were doing prior to an accident. They may also refuse to give their phones to law enforcement officers for inspection.

In the wake of a motor vehicle accident, it can be hard for victims to prove that the other side was distracted. This is why if they intend to file a claim against that driver's auto insurance company, they may want to retain a lawyer. Personal injury lawyers might have a network of third parties like crash investigators and medical experts to help build up a case. Victims may have their lawyer speak on their behalf at the negotiation table.

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