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Survey: Drivers using phones in riskier ways

Distracted DrivingVirginia drivers observed in a 2018 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety survey were 57 percent more likely to be manipulating a cell phone than drivers in a 2014 survey.

Studies consistently show that manipulating a cell phone significantly increases crash risk. The IIHS survey results indicate a dangerous trend in driver behavior. Another 2018 IIHS survey found that 31 percent of respondents in states without a hand-held phone ban reported that they sometimes engage in hand-held cell phone conversations, compared with 14 percent of drivers surveyed in states with a hand-held phone ban.

Thirty-eight percent of drivers surveyed said they had read emails or texts while driving during the past month, and a third reported that they sent emails or texts.

Traffic fatalities in Virginia have increased every year since 2013. In 2017, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, 25 percent of traffic fatalities were caused by distracted driving.

The DRIVE SMART Virginia #HandsFreeVA initiative is a diverse group of law enforcement agencies, businesses, and associations determined to curb the distracted driving epidemic.

“Our goal is to reduce injuries and fatalities on the roadways of Virginia,” said Janet Brooking, DRIVE SMART Virginia Executive Director. “Distracted driving has been identified as a leading causative factor, and hand-held phone use is the most pressing issue due to the cognitive, visual, and manual distractions involved.”