Study finds phone addicts are the most dangerous drivers

A recent study says that phone addicts are the most prevalent type of risky driver on the roads.

A new study by Zendrive, a San Francisco-based startup that tracks how drivers use their phones, has come up with a list of "risky persona" drivers. As Digital Trends reports, the study found that "phone addicts," who spent 3.2 times more than average on their phones while driving, were the most dangerous type of driver, followed by "lead-footers" and "speed demons." The risk of a motor vehicle crash was especially high for phone addicts and while this group represents just a fraction of all drivers, they may be largely responsible for the increase in fatal accidents in recent years.

Analyzing different driver personas

To rank how dangerous each type of driving persona was and how prevalent each persona was, Zendrive analyzed seven different factors, including trip duration, percentage of time spent on the phone or speeding, the number of hard braking or rapid acceleration events, and hours spent driving at night, on the weekends, and on the highway. Zendrive uses technology that syncs with phones' apps and GPS to give researchers and insurers a good idea of when a driver is holding a phone when behind the wheel.

The study found that phone addicts were the most prevalent and most dangerous driver persona. About 12 percent of drivers were defined as phone addicts, ahead of the nine percent who were classified as lead-footers, and eight percent as speed demons. Somewhat reassuringly, 71 percent of drivers were characterized as low risk.

Dangerous drivers fuel accident surge

However, despite the fact that the vast majority of drivers may be considered "low risk," the small percentage of risky drivers are creating dangerous situations for all motorists on the roads. After all, 29 percent of an estimated 200 million drivers overall still equals a lot of dangerous drivers.

As Bloomberg points out, traffic fatalities surged across the U.S. between 2014 and 2016 by 14.4 percent, reversing decades of declines. The groups that saw the biggest spikes in fatalities were pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists, all of whom are more likely to be harder to notice by drivers who are distracted by their phones. Those spikes suggest that distracted drivers are a big reason for the increase in overall traffic fatalities.

While Zendrive's technology-driven analysis of distracted driving is likelier more accurate than federal data (which relies on police reports), it still has its limits. For example, it only records when a driver is distracted by a phone if that phone is being moved around. If the phone is stationary, such as on a dashboard mount, but still in use, then Zendrive's technology will not capture that instance of distracted driving. Thus, even this study likely underestimates the extent of phone use behind the wheel.

Personal injury law

Anybody who has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, especially if it may have been caused by a distracted or otherwise negligent driver, should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can help accident victims with the often complicated claims process, including by showing them what compensation they may ultimately be entitled to.