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Studies shed light on distracted driving epidemic

Most motorists in Pennsylvania and around the country know that using mobile electronic devices while driving can be dangerous, but that knowledge does not seem to be enough to curb this type of behavior. A National Safety Council survey of 2,400 drivers found that the use of social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat was rampant, and more than a third of the motorists polled even said that they would not hesitate to watch YouTube videos while behind the wheel.

Smartphones are now an indispensable part of life for many, and the situation seems likely to get worse before it gets better. Nintendo's Pokémon GO became a sensation following its July 6 release, and the augmented reality game has already been linked to at least two distracted driving accidents. Public awareness campaigns about the dangers of cellphone use behind the wheel are often aimed at younger drivers, but research conducted by Liberty Mutual indicates that these efforts have had little effect.

The insurance provider asked more than 2,000 teenagers about their cellphone use while driving, and almost 70 percent of them admitted that they still access popular apps while behind the wheel. NHTSA statistics reveal that accidents linked to distracted driving cause more than 1,000 injuries each day on the nation's roads. However, many road safety advocates believe that the problem is widely underreported and the true figure could be far higher.

While there is no breath test for distracted driving, there may be an electronic footprint that may be useful to personal injury attorneys pursuing civil remedies on behalf of car accidents victims. Most modern vehicles contain devices that reveal how their drivers behaved in the moments leading up to a collision, and wireless service providers keep detailed records of their customers' usage.

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