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The growth of distracted driving

With smartphones, navigation systems and other technologies presenting more distractions than ever, drivers are at a greater risk for crashes. Drivers in California should know about a recent survey where 63 percent of drivers stated that they fear distracted drivers more than they do intoxicated drivers. Approximately 75 percent of drivers claimed that they see other drivers on their phones every day.

The most frequent distractions are text messages, phone calls, navigation systems and conversations with other occupants of the vehicle. Though distracted driving deaths are on the rise, the penalties regarding them are still light compared to those of DUI. The lack of a cultural stigma around distracted driving leaves many drivers with little motivation for changing their ways. The same survey states that 79 percent of drivers would be motivated if their auto insurers gave discounts to those who do not drive distracted.

Smartphone-based telematics programs are currently available through some auto insurers; these monitor speed, the distance traveled, acceleration patterns and other factors that might suggest the driver is being negligent. The program can give drivers feedback about unsafe driving habits and, over time, help them improve their driving. At the same time, campaigns like Distracted Driving Awareness month and the "It Can Wait" movement are signs of an organized opposition against distracted driving.

Drivers are responsible for maintaining control over their vehicles, and if they cause a car collision because they let distractions get in the way, they could be guilty of negligence. The victim might speak with an accident attorney about building up a claim against that driver's auto insurance company. Accident attorneys may do this with the help of investigators, photographers and other experts. Attorneys might then be able to negotiate for a settlement out of court, litigating if the insurer refuses to pay out.

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