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Distracted driver behaviors rise with cruise control use

Louisiana residents have enough to worry about when they are on the road without more dangers cropping up. But, as new innovations become commonplace and automakers take steps to integrate them into the vehicles they create, negatives often accompany them. Despite many innovations being in the early stages of development, these remain a concern as people are injured and killed. Studies are examining these factors in various combinations.

According to research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, drivers who place their vehicles on cruise control are of greater likelihood to access apps or text message. The data comes from a telematics firm, assessing three billion miles traveled on 270 million trips. It found that when a vehicle is placed on cruise control, the driver will be using the phone for various activities 10 percent of the time. That is 22 percent higher than the statistics for drivers who are not on cruise control.

It is believed that people are increasingly mistaking cruise control with the vehicle operating autonomously. With cruise control, a vehicle can maintain speed and stay in its lane, but it is not a replacement for the driver. The study does not differentiate between cruise control that adapts to the traffic and cruise control that simply maintains a certain speed. Distracted driving is an overriding problem on the road regardless of the circumstances.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that of all fatal accidents in 2016, 9 percent were linked to a distracted driver. 3,450 people died in those accidents. A significant portion of Americans - close to 23 percent - believe that autonomous vehicles are currently available. Slightly more than 8 percent think they have been passengers in one already. As for age, younger drivers between the ages of 17 and 22 are using their phones 12 percent of the time they are operating the vehicle. People age 72 to 77 were doing the same thing 7 percent of the time.

These statistics should be worrisome to people who need to share the road with distracted drivers, people who feel it is safe to take part in texting and driving or are under the impression that cruise control is equal to a vehicle driving itself. This information can be useful to avoid an accident by being more cautious and it can also be beneficial after an accident when considering a legal filing. Evidence of a driver who was distracted or making other errors can be key to maximizing compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and for the loss of a loved one. Having legal help from a lawyer who knows how to research and pursue compensation after car accidents can be critical to a case.

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