Drivers in Wisconsin and around the U.S. have new data to consider after a new study revealed that, especially for teen drivers, dialing or reaching for a cell phone is far more dangerous than simply speaking on the phone. The study, conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, was a real-world study that looked at aspects of in-car cell phone use other than voice conversation.
While drivers between 15 and 20 years old account for just six percent of all U.S. drivers, they represent 10 percent of traffic deaths and 14 percent of crashes with injuries. Using multiple devices such as video cameras, global positioning systems, acceleration monitors and lane trackers, researchers monitored 42 newly licensed teen drivers as well as more than 100 adults who had an average of 20 years driving experience.
The rate of crashes or near-misses increased drastically for teens when they made use of their phones for reasons other than simply talking. Reaching for their phone increased the chances by more than seven times, and texting increased it by four times. Though the increase was not as drastic as with the teens, the older drivers also demonstrated a higher chance of a crash or near-miss when reaching for their phones or other objects.
Though anti-texting while driving campaigns and laws outlawing the use of phones while driving continue to appear across the country, incidences of distracted drivers causing accidents continue to occur. For individuals who become injured in such car accidents, proving that the other driver was distracted by a cell phone or other device might be difficult. If an injured party chooses to file a personal injury claim, it may be necessary to subpoena the phone records of the driver who is believed to have been at fault.
Source: CBS News, “Distracted driving study: Cell phone dialing, texting dangerous. Talking? Less so.“, January 02, 2014