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Traffic deaths and smartphone use

New Jersey motorists should be aware that the increased use of mobile phones is a factor in the growing number of fatal motor vehicle accidents. This is after the number of deaths on the road had been dropping for decades. The number of traffic fatalities in the United States has spiked by 14.4 percent during the past two years. Over 100 people perished on average each day in 2016 in America either in or near a vehicle.

Regulators are uncertain about what is contributing to the rise in deaths. There has been no substantial increase in drunk drivers, drivers who speed or in the distances being driven. However, there has been a significant increase in smartphone use by drivers. The percentage of Americans who possessed an Android, iPhone or other type of smartphone jumped to 81 percent from 75 percent between 2014 and 2016. Drivers are also conducting activities on their smartphones that require much more attention than just responding to a call. Nearly 70 percent of Americans in 2015 accessed social media platforms for current events and shared photographs by using their phones. That percentage has risen to 80 percent.

The victims of fatal traffic accidents are often pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists, who are less likely to be noticed on the road than a large vehicle if people are glancing away from their phone while behind the wheel. In 2016, the number of pedestrians killed by vehicles in the United States was 5,987, 22 percent more than the figure for 2014.

People who are injured in car accidents may have cause to pursue financial damages if it can be determined that the accident was caused by the negligence of another motorist, such as one who was texting and driving. A personal injury attorney can often be of assistance in that regard by reviewing the driver's cellphone usage data.

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