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Study: Some Distracted Driving Behaviors Pose Higher Risks

texting driving teensSome distracted driving behaviors pose high crash risks while others are less risky than previously thought, according to a large-scale study conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech.

The study considers such activities as cell phone use, reading or writing, or reaching for objects. It also looked at the impact of observably strong emotions on the crash rate. Overall, the study found that in 905 serious crashes, driver-related factors such as fatigue, error, impairment (drug, alcohol, or other), or distraction were involved in 90 percent.

The study was conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute. It was the first naturalistic driving study to consider crash-only data, rather than cases involving near collisions or fender-benders.

The study involved outfitting vehicles with cameras and other equipment to monitor driving behaviors and other factors in order to correlate them with actual collisions. The study was the largest of its kind, with more than 3500 participants and six data collection sites. More than 1,600 crash events, ranging in severity from low to high, were considered as part of the study.

Study analyzes distracted driving risks

The study found that speeding increased the risk of a crash by 13 times and that performance errors or unfamiliarity with a route also increased risk. Drivers who were obviously in heightened emotional states (angry, sad, or agitated) experienced an increased crash risk of almost 10 times.

Other behaviors created far less risk than previously thought. For instance, applying make-up or following to closely were present infrequently or not at all. Drivers who interacted with a child in the back seat actually had a lower crash risk than the base-line risk.

Paul Dingus, the lead author for the study, said that researchers have known for years that driver-related factors were involved in many crashes, but that the study allowed them to have a far clearer picture of which behaviors carried the most risk.

He emphasized the significance of the findings in an environment in which drivers, particularly young ones, are more likely to engage in distracting activities behind the wheel. “Our ultimate goal,” said Dingus, “ is to identify those risks and to help others create the necessary countermeasures to ensure the safety of ground transportation users.”

Accident victims need legal representation

Victims of distracted driving crashes may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and losses. Many states have distracted driving laws that prohibit cell phone use or texting, for instance, while driving. Drivers who engage in such behaviors behind the wheel put others at risk and their negligence may be taken into consideration as part of a civil lawsuit.

A personal injury lawsuit can help victims recover losses such as medical expenses, lost income or earning potential, loss of quality of life, and pain and suffering. In the case of death, family members may also be entitled to compensation through a wrongful death claim.

Victims or their families should contact attorneys who understand all facets of distracted driving-related cases in order to maximize the potential for success in court.

To schedule a free case review with Los Angeles car accident lawyers at Ellis Law, please call 1-800-INJURED.