New Jersey has a high number of “phone addicts” on the roads

A new study says that New Jersey has one of the highest percentages of drivers addicted to their phones.

It is no secret that distracted driving is one of the main factors in the recent nationwide surge in traffic fatalities. As Bloomberg reports, between 2014 and 2016 U.S. traffic fatalities rose by 14.4 percent, one of the steepest increases on record. Mobile phone usage is likely to be behind much of that increase, but tracking the problem of distracted driving due to mobile phones is difficult. Now, a study by tech startup Zendrive, which uses data from drivers' cellphones to determine when they are distracted, is seeking to capture a more accurate picture of the most distracted and dangerous drivers on the road.

Tracking drivers in real time

Federal data is notoriously unreliable at capturing the extent of the distracted driving problem. In fact, the National Safety Council estimates that half of all accidents that are caused by phone usage are not categorized as such in federal statistics. That is because federal data relies on police reports to determine the causes of accidents. Since many drivers don't readily admit to police that they were distracted just prior to an accident, those police reports tend to do a pretty poor job of tracking distracted driving rates.

Tech startup Zendrive attempted to address this problem by tracking drivers' phone usage in real time. The company's technology syncs up with popular phone apps as well as with GPS coordinates to determine when a phone is being used behind the wheel, how fast that vehicle is travelling, and what drivers are doing with their mobile devices.

Riskiest drivers on the road

As Digital Trends reports, Zendrive used this data to create a list of the most common driver personas, including "phone addicts," "speed demons," and the less risky "weekend drivers." In terms of risky drivers, the study found that "phone addicts" were the most prevalent. Nationally, about 12 percent of drivers were categorized as "phone addicts" who spend 3.2 times more than average on their phones behind the wheel. New Jersey has an especially high number of "phone addicts," being just one of five states to have more than 15 percent of drivers categorized as such. Idaho, by contrast, had the lowest share of "phone addicts," at just 6.3 percent.

Although the Zendrive study is a better way of tracking distracted driving than police reports, it still likely underestimates the problem. For one, a driver was only considered to be distracted when they actually moved their phone. Zendrive didn't track distractions by phones that were mounted to dashboards. Secondly, the category of "phone addict" only applies to the most routinely distracted drivers. Drivers who are distracted by their phones only occasionally can still cause accidents, but were nonetheless defined as "low risk" according to Zendrive.

Personal injury law

As the above article shows, there are many dangerous drivers on the road and they make driving dangerous for even the safest of motorists. Anybody who has been hurt in an accident, especially one caused by a distracted driver, should get in touch with a personal injury attorney immediately. An attorney can fight for the compensation that injured drivers may be entitled to and help them defend their rights.