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Pinpointing the reason for the increase in roadway fatalities

Most people have their own opinions of which state has the worst drivers. For example, if you're from the Midwest, you probably think East Coast drivers are terrible, while East Coast drivers probably wonder why everyone else can't drive right in a snowstorm.

However, data from a study conducted through a smartphone app may help experts understand regional driving differences -- and how to manage them.

How was the data collected?

An insurance company, Everquote, gathered information from a smartphone app used by customers who wanted to learn more about their own driving habits. The app could detect speeding, signs of distracted driving (like using the phone while in motion) and other pieces of raw information. The data was collected over a year's time, from 2.7 million individual car trips.

What are some problems with the data?

Executives at Everquote believe the data might be skewed to show better driving habits than you'd see from a totally random sample of drivers. First, the app was downloaded voluntarily by people who want to improve their own driving skills, which means they may be more safety-conscious drivers in the first place. Second, drivers may have also been better behaved because they were being monitored.

What does the data suggest?

If you're in West Virginia or North Carolina, watch out for drivers ahead of you -- people are prone to turning without warning. If you're in California or New Jersey, watch for risky drivers -- and a lot of sudden, short stops as a result. People from Mississippi and Florida spend a lot of time on their phones -- using them nearly half the time they're driving -- which means distracted driving is a significant risk for others around them.

What can be done with the data?

Pedestrians are dying at an increased rate after being struck by moving vehicles and there's been a 14 percent overall jump in auto accident fatalities over just two years. Experts are hoping to use some of the data to determine why there's been such a jump in vehicle-related fatalities -- the increase is puzzling experts nationally.

If you've been injured either while you were in another vehicle or while you were a pedestrian, it would be smart to talk to an attorney about your options. A lawsuit may be necessary to fully recover for your injuries and financial losses.

Source: PBS Newshour, "Where Are The Nation's Worst Drivers? This Data May Hold The Answer," April 13, 2017

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