A recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study reveals that drivers distracted by cell phones are becoming an increasingly serious problem in South Carolina and around the country. After observing motorist behavior in four Virginia communities in 2014 and then again in 2018, researchers from the nonprofit group did not see a significant increase in cell phone use. However, they did notice that drivers were using their phones in much riskier ways.

According to the IIHS study, drivers today are 57 percent more likely than they were four years ago to use their cell phones to write or read text messages, check social media or send emails. In 2014, most drivers used the devices to make phone calls. This is alarming for road safety advocates because studies have found that drivers distracted by cell phones are 8 percent more likely to be involved in a fatal accident.

Based on their observations, the researchers concluded that using cell phones for tasks other than making phone calls caused at least 800 deaths on American roads in 2017. Many experts believe that the true distracted driving death toll could actually be much higher. The figures are being questioned because so much of the data used to draw the conclusions made by groups like the IIHS is based on statements taken from drivers who have just been involved in car accidents and may be reluctant to admit that they were distracted.

When car accidents may have been caused by a distracted driver, and police investigations draw no firm conclusions, experienced personal injury attorneys may check cell phone usage details and internet records to gather evidence that could be used in lawsuits filed on behalf of those who suffered injury, loss or damage. Lawyers could also have the vehicles involved in an accident inspected as modern automobile computer systems could reveal whether drivers took evasive action before crashing.