Researchers trying to turn distracted drivers into safe ones

The data on distracted driving is all one-sided. There are no studies showing that it’s a harmless diversion from boring driving. Each and every study of the growing problem shows different aspects of a phenomenon that is increasing the risks of being involved in a motor vehicle accident that causes injuries or fatalities.

The traffic data firm Zendrive recently took usage data from millions of cellphones and asked drivers how well they focus on the road and traffic in an effort to determine how well people assess their own use of their phone while they’re behind the wheel. The results of this latest research are not encouraging.

Zendrive found that the most distracted drivers actually consider themselves good drivers, with the very worst of them grading themselves as “extremely safe.”

“It’s just terrifying,” said Zendrive’s CEO, Jonathan Matus. “We’ve built these highly addictive experiences and people can’t help themselves.” Ironically, Matus helped create one of those distractions: Facebook’s mobile app.

He later went in the opposite direction, launching Zendrive to help insurance companies and trucking companies identify dangerous drivers.

Insurers and data monitors say that people who check their phone usage data and become aware of their behind-the-wheel usage see their distraction levels drop by 35 percent. “Just seeing the results helps,” said an executive with a company monitoring phone usage. “It’s almost like going into a restaurant and being able to see calories on a menu.”

An app maker that rewards people for driving without using their phones says it has seen a 40 percent reduction in phone use.

No one has found a surefire way of getting people to pay strict attention to the roads and traffic, but there are hopeful signs that with education and awareness, drivers will do the right thing and protect themselves, their passengers and other motorists by focusing on driving rather than electronics.

If you or a loved one has been hurt by a distracted driver, an attorney experienced in personal injury litigation can help you pursue maximum compensation for all damages.