Gibbs & Fuerst, LLP

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Study finds that more drivers are texting behind the wheel

California drivers aren't talking on their cell phones as much as they were four years ago, according to a new report. However, the study revealed that drivers are now more likely to use their cell phones to text or send emails.

To prepare the report, which was issued by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, researchers analyzed the findings of two observational surveys that were conducted on drivers stopped at red lights in four Northern Virginia towns. One survey was conducted in 2014, and the other was done in 2018. The researchers found that drivers in 2018 were 57 percent more likely to use their cell phones for texting or emails than drivers in 2014. On the other hand, 2014 drivers were more likely to use their phones to make calls than 2018 drivers.

While the report cited no evidence that distracted driving incidents increased between 2014 and 2018, the authors noted that texting is a riskier behavior than talking on the phone. Studies have found that activities that require drivers to manipulate their cell phone significantly increase the risk of a motor vehicle accident. Specifically, one study found that manipulating a cell phone increased the risk of getting into a fatal crash by 66 percent. Based on that data, IIHS estimated that over 800 people were killed in car crashes caused by cell phone manipulation in 2017.

Distracted drivers who cause car crashes could be held accountable in court. Not only could they be slapped with traffic citations or even criminal charges, but they could also be sued by injured victims. If the lawsuit is successful, the responsible party could be ordered to compensate the victim for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, property loss and other crash-related damages. Auto accident victims may want to contact a personal injury attorney to find out more about their legal options.

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