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Mississippi drivers may be the nation's most distracted

The results of a recent road safety study suggest that drivers in Mississippi may be the most distracted motorists in the nation. The technology startup Zendrive used anonymized customer data to determine how long drivers in various parts of the country spend on their phones each day, and the figures indicate that motorists in the Magnolia State spend almost 8 percent of their time using mobile devices to send text messages or make phone calls.

The study paints a worrying picture. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that about 660,000 American drivers use their phones while behind the wheel each day, but the Zendrive study suggests that the true figure could be closer to 69 million. This would mean that six out of 10 American drivers take their eyes off the road to use a phone every day. Even more alarmingly, the data makes it clear that efforts to curb this type of behavior by passing strict distracted driving laws have been largely ineffective.

Laws banning the use of handheld electronic devices by motorists did not prevent an increase in distracted driving in Rhode Island, Illinois, New York, Connecticut or Hawaii, according to the study. The findings also indicate that the amount of time drivers in Washington spend on mobile phones each day increased by more than a third between 2016 and 2017 despite a law so strict that it prohibits drivers from even touching a phone while stopped in traffic.

Distracted drivers rarely face criminal penalties because it can be difficult to conclusively prove distraction. However, the standards are not as strict in civil courts, and experienced personal injury attorneys may pursue car accident lawsuits against distracted drivers even when prosecutors have declined to file charges.

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