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Distracted driving on the rise

Drivers in West Virginia may be aware that distracted driving is a hazard. However, they might not realize just how pervasive it's becoming. A recent survey showed that 63 percent of drivers fear distracted drivers more than they do intoxicated drivers. The number of DUI-related deaths is a third of what it used to be three decades ago, but distracted driving deaths are on the rise.

New technology is behind much of this as smartphones and in-car navigation systems are now common fixtures for drivers. While 45 states have laws against texting and driving, talking on the phone and even talking with other passengers can take a driver's attention off the road and increase the risk for a crash. In the same survey, 75 percent of drivers claimed that they witness other drivers using their phones on a daily basis.

Many drivers don't feel motivated to reduce phone distractions. One important reason is that less cultural stigma is attached to distracted driving. Furthermore, current penalties for distracted driving are comparatively light.

To reduce distracted driving, some auto insurers offer smartphone-based telematics programs. These use mobile sensors to monitor driver behavior and alert users to any unsafe habits that they're engaging in. However, the survey showed that only 22 percent of drivers have been offered these programs by insurers.

To drive with distractions is a choice that every driver makes on his or her own. When such negligent behavior results in an accident, the victim can file a third-party insurance claim to be compensated for vehicle repair costs, medical bills and other losses. This is where an accident attorney can come in and provide assistance. The lawyer could hire accident investigators and other experts to strengthen the claim and then proceed to negotiations.

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