When West Virginia drivers get behind the wheel, around 36 percent of their fellow drivers are using a handheld cellphone according to statistics released by safe driving app Everdrive. The app tracks the driving practices of users on the road with their permission. The app’s research found that drivers in the South are most likely to make use of their phones while driving; Mississippi leads the nation with 47 percent phone usage. Other nearby states such as Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida followed closely behind.
Phone usage and driving is a key public health matter because calling, texting or surfing the internet while driving can lead to devastating car accidents. Distracted driving accidents, in which the driver’s attention was diverted from the roadway, took the lives of 3,477 people and injured 391,000 more in 2015, notes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While smartphone-based distractions like texting while driving are well known, distracted driving can also encompass behaviors like eating, applying makeup or changing the dials on the car radio.
Of course, distracted driving is not the only issue for driver safety. Drivers in the northeastern U.S. showed the broadest signs of unsafe driving, including speeding or braking hard when coming to a stop. Many states are working to reduce the risk of distracted driving by barring handheld mobile phone use behind the wheel or giving out costly tickets for being caught texting and driving. Some of these states, like Vermont and Washington, had the lowest rates of phone usage in the Everdrive study.
Phone use and other forms of distracted driving can have devastating consequences for the victims, including lifelong injuries and disabilities. People who have been injured in car accidents caused by others’ negligent driving may wish to contact a personal injury lawyer for help pursuing compensation for their injuries.