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Car insurance companies could start tracking phone use

Drivers in New Jersey and around the country may be aware that auto insurance companies use driving histories as well as other information to determine premiums. Rates are generally higher for motorists who have low credit scores or live in high-crime areas. A division of the Allstate Insurance Company has recently developed a way to also track in-car smartphone use to assess distracted driving risks. Arity says that its technology, which uses a phone's gyroscope and accelerometer to track speed and movement, can even tell when drivers pick up their phones to make calls or send text messages.

While the cellphone tracking technology has not yet been used to set premiums, it has been thoroughly tested. After analyzing about 160 million journeys made by Allstate customers, the system observed a noticed rise in crash risks as cellphone use increased. According to the figures, drivers who use their phones the most cost insurance companies approximately 160 percent more than motorists who never text or call while behind the wheel.

Not only do drivers who routinely use their cellphones get into car accidents more often, but they also tend to cause more damage and injure other road users more seriously. An Arity representative said that cellphone tracking software is likely to become commonplace in the coming years as auto insurers vie to attract new customers and compete to hold on to their safest and most dependable policy holders.

Distracted drivers often blame poor weather, road debris or other motorists when they crash. However, experienced personal injury attorneys may be able to establish negligence by studying police reports and gathering electronic data. While the kind of technology developed by Arity is not yet widely available, lawyers may be able to show that drivers were using their cellphones prior to an accident by checking their wireless service accounts, social media activity and internet use.

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