Distracted driving fatality rates linked to state cellphone laws

Illinois residents should know that their state has the 10th highest rate of distracted driving fatalities in the nation. This is based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. DoT's Federal Highway Administration. In all, from 2015 to 2017 there were more than 1,400 car crash fatalities that involved at least one driver using a cellphone.

The findings were gathered by analysts at ValuePenguin and go like this. Tennessee saw the highest rate of distracted driving fatalities (7.2 people per 10 billion miles traveled). This was followed by Delaware (3.28), Wyoming (3.22), Texas (3) and Montana (2.91). Tennessee's rate is nearly five times the national average, which came to 1.49 fatalities per 10 billion vehicle miles. These five states together accounted for 31 percent of all fatalities.

Rhode Island and Washington, D.C., both saw zero distracted driving fatalities between 2015 and 2017. Nevada had the lowest rate with .25. ValuePenguin analysts linked the higher fatality rates with lax cellphone laws. The 13 states with the most far-reaching laws experienced nearly 30 percent fewer fatalities than the rest.

Analysts admit, though, that there are outliers. For instance, Delaware had the second highest rate but has a complete ban on texting and all handheld phone use. Nebraska, which came in 48th, has only a partial texting ban and no handheld ban.

All sorts of activities can constitute a distraction, including phone use, talking with passengers and eating or drinking. If a distracted driver causes a car accident, those who are injured and not responsible may file a claim against the other's auto insurance carrier. It may be advisable, though, to hire a lawyer beforehand. A personal injury lawyer may estimate how much victims might be eligible for, and he or she may be able to negotiate for a fair settlement.

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