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Study: Smartphone Use Causing Crashes

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Jan. 30, 2019—Manipulating a cellphone was a contributing factor in more than 800 crash deaths on U.S. roads during 2017 amid a marked increase in the percentage of drivers observed interacting with cellphones, new IIHS research indicates.

The estimated number of deaths, however, still represents a fraction of the overall crash death toll.

Virginia drivers observed in a 2018 IIHS roadside survey were 57 percent more likely to be manipulating a cellphone than drivers in a 2014 survey. The percentage of drivers observed manipulating a phone rose from 2.3 percent in 2014 to 3.4 percent in 2018.

At the same time, drivers were less likely to be seen simply holding a cellphone or talking on a hand-held phone than in the prior survey. The finding is consistent with research indicating that drivers are talking on hand-held phones less and fiddling with them more often than in recent years.

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