Distracted driving rampant but likely underreported

Motorists peering at cellphone screens instead of the road ahead are a common sight on the roads of Connecticut, and lawmakers and road safety advocacy groups around the country are becoming increasingly concerned about the popularity of smartphone apps such as the wildly successful augmented reality game Pokémon GO. These concerns are fueled by the kind of data found in a report released by Liberty Mutual. The insurance giant discovered that almost 70 percent of teen drivers admitted to using smartphone apps while behind the wheel.

Only 6 percent of the teens surveyed by Liberty Mutual felt that using smartphone apps while behind the wheel was the most distracting thing that drivers could do, and 74 percent of the motorists polled by the National Safety Council said that they would not hesitate to access Facebook while driving. More alarmingly, the NSC researchers surveyed drivers of all ages and not just teens.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that distracted drivers cause more than eight deaths every day in the United States, but many road safety experts say that the true figure could be much higher. Cellphone use behind the wheel is widely regarded as an underreported problem, and it can be difficult for law enforcement to prove that a driver was distracted at the time of a crash.

The processes companies use to gather information have become far more sophisticated in recent years, and this abundance of data could be useful to both police officers investigating distracted driving accidents and personal injury attorneys seeking compensation for those who have suffered injury, loss or damage. Wireless service providers are keeping increasingly detailed records of their customers’ activities, and most modern vehicles feature black box type devices that can reveal whether or not any evasive action was taken in the seconds before a crash.