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First responder study reveals distracted driving dangers

Road safety experts say that a worrying rise in distracted driving in Wyoming and around the country is being caused by cellphone use, and the finger of blame is generally pointed at motorists who use these devices to send text messages or access social media platforms while behind the wheel. However, the results of a driver poll released on March 3 by the Emergency Responder Safety Institute and the National Safety Council highlights another smartphone danger.

More than 70 percent of the 2,001 respondents said that they slow down to take photographs or shoot video of accident scenes to post on social media, and one in 10 admitted that they either struck or almost struck an emergency worker while doing so. The results of the ERSI and NSC poll were released to coincide with the beginning of Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Similar studies have revealed that drivers routinely engage in behavior they criticize others for because they believe that they are excellent drivers. Almost a quarter of the motorists polled admitted to using their cellphones to send email or take photographs while driving, and 29 percent said that they use the devices to access social media. However, an overwhelming 89 percent of the respondents said that distracted driving posed a major threat to first responders.

Police reports do not always reveal that accidents were caused by cellphone use because the drivers involved are rarely eager to admit that they were distracted. When representing clients that may have been injured by a distracted driver, experienced personal injury attorneys may seek to have the vehicles involved inspected. This is because the electronic recording devices fitted to most new cars keep track of driver behavior and can reveal whether or not any evasive action was taken before a crash. Attorneys could also check social media accounts and use subpoenas to access cellphone records.

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