SALT LAKE CITY — Smartphones are playing an even bigger role in distracted driving, a new study shows. In fact, in more than half the crashes studied, the driver was distracted by a cell phone at some point in the trip, according to the Cambridge Mobile Telematics study.
Some Utah drivers, like Robin Sewell, are already convinced distracted driving is causing crashes.
“I’m a truck driver and I see it all the time, all the time,” Sewell said. “The phone is stuck to the ear or they’re texting. It’s pretty bad.”
Ulises Vazquez was on his phone when he rear-ended someone on the freeway as he was first learning to drive. The accident made him change the way he uses his phone.
“Ever since that day, I haven’t really used my phone when I’m driving,” Vazquez said.
The cell phone and driving study looked at driving data from more than 100,000 motorists.
Distracted driving occurred in 52 percent of trips that ended in a crash. And 25 percent of the drivers used the phone within one minute of the crash.
In Utah, distracted drivers killed 25 people and seriously injured 111 others in 2016.
The Utah Department of Transportation suspects phone distractions are to blame in many more crashes.
UDOT representative John Gleason said distracted driving is just the tip of the iceberg.
“It is one of the most under-reported behaviors that we see because if you were involved in a crash, many times, you’re not going to admit that you were distracted,” Gleason said.
Distraction continues to rise as a factor in crashes on Utah roads.
“As a society, we are addicted to our iPhones, addicted to our iPads, addicted to our devices,” Gleason said. “And we don’t always put them away and keep them away when we drive. And we really need to. It’s the most dangerous thing that we will do every day.”
It’s no secret the evolution of cell phones have made users distracted in many areas of daily life, but with a goal of Zero Fatalities, UDOT continues to urge all drivers to set aside that main distraction when behind the wheel.