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Driving distracted can put others at risk

Despite widespread attention paid to the dangers of distracted driving, one study indicates that it continues to be a significant threat on Kentucky roads. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a report comparing results of surveys in 2014 and 2018 that questioned drivers about their distracted behaviors behind the wheel. While overall rates of distracted driving remained relatively stable between the two years, more dangerous forms of distraction became increasingly common in that time period.

In some ways, the changes in distracted driving patterns mirrored overall trends in communication. For example, drivers were less likely to hold a cellphone while having a voice call behind the wheel. On the other hand, they were 57 percent more likely to text, send emails or use the internet while driving on a mobile device. While it poses an increased risk of car accidents to drive while talking on a handheld phone, as drivers' attention tends to drift to the center of the road, driving while texting can have more severe consequences. The hand manipulation of a phone that accompanies texting and surfing can take drivers' eyes away from the road and hands from the wheel. Studies indicate that it can elevate the risk of a fatal crash by two-thirds.

In 2017, 800 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes linked to texting or surfing while driving. However, smartphones aren't the only source of distraction. Eating and drinking, caring for children or even using built-in entertainment systems can divert a driver's mind from the road.

The effects of distracted driving are far too often felt by others on the road who suffer from severe injuries or permanent disabilities after serious car wrecks. Accident victims may work with a personal injury lawyer to seek compensation for their damages after a crash, including lost wages and medical bills.

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