ValuePenguin has analyzed federal data on cellphone-related distracted driving accidents and has found that distracted driving fatality rates generally are highest in those states that have the most lax cellphone laws. Kentucky ranked 16th with a fatality rate of 1.76 people per 10 billion miles traveled. This state has a complete ban on texting but no ban on handheld phone use in general.

From 2015 to 2017, there were more than 1,400 traffic deaths linked to cellphone use. The five states with the highest distracted driving fatality rates were Tennessee, Delaware, Wyoming, Texas and Montana. Together, these states accounted for 31 percent of the distracted driving fatalities from 2015 to 2017. The 13 states that had the strictest cellphone laws saw nearly 30 percent fewer fatalities than the rest of the U.S.

Tennessee had a rate of 7.2 fatalities per 10 billion miles traveled, followed by 3.28 for Delaware and 3.22 for Wyoming. Rhode Island and the District of Columbia had no distracted driving fatalities in the period studied. There were some outliers in the statistics. For example, Delaware has a complete ban on texting and all handheld phone use, yet it ranked second highest. On the other hand, Nebraska has little in the way of regulations but a low fatality rate.

When drivers call, text or engage in some other distracting activity behind the wheel, they raise their risk for a motor vehicle accident. Moreover, they will be to blame for it. Those who are injured through little or no fault of their own may want to consult with an attorney about filing a personal injury claim. The other party’s auto insurance company will be aggressive in denying payment, but the attorney may handle negotiations and litigate as a last resort.