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New study reveals new information regarding distracted driving

We've all heard about how distracted driving can cause serious accidents out on the Pittsburgh highways. However, researchers were unable to determine what a driver was actually doing right before an accident. That changes with a naturalistic driving study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The study looked at the behaviors of drivers over a set period of time to help figure out what behaviors and factors play a role in car accidents. From 2010 to 2013, researchers monitored the behaviors of 3,000 drivers.

Videos taken before the accidents and random videos of normal driving were used to see what drivers do behind the wheel. If the driver was involved in any secondary behaviors, researchers could calculate whether these behaviors would cause a crash. As suspected, the study showed that distracted drivers are more likely to be involved in a car accident. The most significant increase in risk occurred when the driver was using an in-vehicle system or using their phone to check an application or send a text. Eating, drinking and cell phone calls were not as significant, but still did show an increase in risk.

Researchers also considered the severity of the accidents that occurred. The study revealed that most of the accidents, nearly 42 percent of the 1,465 collisions studied, were low-risk tire strikes where, for example, a vehicle collided with a curb. Close to 41 percent of the accidents were considered minor, 10 percent involved damage that was reported to police and seven percent were considered the most severe. The most severe accidents included airbag deployment, injuries and significant change of speed at impact.

Researchers are typically most concerned with fatal accidents and accidents involving serious injuries. In this study however, there were no fatal accidents and a majority of the crashes did not involve severe injury, making it difficult to draw any conclusions about them. Researchers also did not account for driver characteristics or environmental factors, but will do so in future studies.

Source: The Day, "Naturalistic behavioral study highlights the dangers of distracted driving," Day Marketing, Dec. 26, 2015

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