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Study shows more drivers using phone in dangerous ways

New Jersey drivers might be using their cell phones to make calls less frequently, but the incidence of using them to text, email or in other ways while behind the wheel might have increased. According to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released on Jan. 24, in 2018, it was 57 percent more likely that drivers would be seen using their phones for non-calling purposes compared to 2014. However, fewer drivers were using the phone to make calls in 2018.

It can be difficult to get good information on the number of fatal accidents caused by distracted driving and how much distracted driving is due to the use of phones. Experts say that texting, emailing, using apps or other actions that take the driver's attention away from the road can be particularly dangerous. Even talking on the phone can be distracting as can talking to children in the car or sipping from a drink.

The IIHS estimates that in 2017, over 800 motor vehicle fatalities may have occurred because of drivers using their phones to text or in other ways that did not involve talking. This is based on research that shows the chance of a fatal accident is 66 percent higher when drivers are using a phone. However, figures on distracted driving may be unreliable since they rely on drivers self-reporting.

If a driver causes a motor vehicle accident because of being distracted or for any other reason, such as due to being fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, that driver may be responsible for the expenses of any people injured in the accident. People who are injured may want to contact an attorney since in some cases, getting compensation might not be straightforward. A driver's insurance company might offer too little in compensation or might dispute who is at fault.

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