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Drivers say worry distracts them more than cellphones

Two studies suggest that motorists in Missouri and around the country have heightened concerns about distracted drivers. Almost two-thirds of the drivers polled by the Swedish car maker Volvo and a research company said that distraction behind the wheel worried them more than intoxication, but the studies also reveal that an alarming number of the respondents were frequently guilty of this reckless behavior themselves.

While cellphones are often portrayed as the leading cause of distracted driving, the overwhelming majority of the motorists surveyed said that driving while worried was their biggest problem. Only 43 percent of the respondents cited cellphones as their chief distraction. Talking with passengers, tending to children and adjusting entertainment or navigation systems were also cited as common driver distractions.

Most of the respondents admitted to behavior that they were quick to criticize others for. More than eight out of 10 admitted to driving while dangerously fatigued, and the number who confessed to routinely using their cellphones while behind the wheel ranged from 59 percent of the oldest respondents to a sobering 81 percent of millennial and Generation X drivers. Even more alarming is what drivers said they were doing with their phones. A quarter of the motorists polled said that they used their smartphones to access social media and 20 percent told researchers that they regularly engaged in video chats while driving.

Using mobile devices while driving leaves an electronic trail that could be used by experienced personal injury attorneys to establish distraction in lawsuits filed on behalf of car crash victims. When distraction seems likely but no such electronic evidence can be found, the data stored on automobile black boxes could help to demonstrate negligence by revealing that no evasive action was taken before the accident.