Washington drivers are among the most frequent users of mobile phones in their vehicles, according to data compiled by a smartphone app.
It’s shocking, we know. But it may help explain why neither Congress nor the executive branch has done anything serious to combat distracted driving in the era of the smartphone.
Life360 — which bills itself as an app for families to let everybody know where everybody else is and how they’re driving — says D.C. drivers use their mobile phones an average of 2.26 times per trip, compared with the national average of 1.78 times.
Only New Orleans (2.78 times), Atlanta (2.73), and Miami (2.54) were more distractible U.S. cities. Tampa (2.17) rounded out the top five. As for states, Mississippi (2.56), Louisiana (2.41), Alabama (2.30), Tennessee (2.2) and Kentucky (2.18) were chattiest (or busiest texting or whatever).
Life360 is quick to point out that the gadget glued to every driver’s hand these days is not just part of the problem but also, the company says, part of the solution. The app, like others on the market, also has a service whose features provide after-action driving reports that document hard braking, rapid acceleration, top speed and mobile phone use during a trip.
The app says families should use its Safe Drive Reviews to “have conversations” about improving driver safety. It also says that within two weeks of using the service, nearly 60 percent of users cut down on mobile phone use while driving.
That’s not bad. But it still seems like whistling past the graveyard when traffic deaths seem to be increasing at a rate that some safety experts say can’t be explained only by a robust economy that has put more vehicles on the road. On Thursday, the Governors Highway Safety Association reported that more than 28,000 pedestrians had been killed between 2010 and 2015, an increase of 25 percent.
Life360’s analysis was based on driver behavior data collected from Feb. 1 to March 15; the company, by using only the adult subscriber for the service, also tried to ensure that the data reflect drivers’ phone use, not a passenger’s, a company spokeswoman said.
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