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Study shows role of emotions, distractions in car accidents

While the overall number of fatal car crashes in this country has declined over the course of the last several decades, some professionals claim that the United States is behind other countries in terms of overall traffic safety. As a result, researchers in Massachusetts and across the country continue to look at behaviors that could cause serious accidents. In fact, a recent study looked at footage of videos taken from 3,500 volunteers to better understand the causes of car accidents.

The study took place over the course of three years and involved drivers from as young to 16 to as old as 98. Their vehicles were equipped with cameras, and researchers had access to information regarding the drivers' locations and speed. As a result of the study, researchers obtained data from more than 900 crashes that resulted in property damage and/or personal injury.

Despite the increasing awareness regarding the dangers of distracted driving, researchers claim that the majority of the accidents they examined involved distracted drivers. Most dangerous were activities that required the drivers to look away from the road, including reaching for something and using a cellphone. Researchers also claimed that drivers who were agitated, sad or angry had a higher chance of being involved in an accident.

While some praise the use of cameras to better understand the behavior of drivers prior to accidents, some worry that actual driver behavior may be more dangerous than the study reveals. These people claim that study participants were aware they were being filmed and, as a result, were likely to be on their best behavior. However, some claim that the study revealed surprisingly dangerous actions.

Public service campaigns and state laws attempt to protect people in Massachusetts from dangerous drivers. Despite the known risks of distracted driving, some continue to engage in risky behaviors while driving, ultimately causing serious car accidents. Victims of such accidents often suffer both physically and financially. In order to help with the financial ramifications of an accident caused by another's negligence, a victim may seek legal recourse by filing a personal injury lawsuit. A successfully presented case could result in a monetary award that would allow victims and their families to better cope with accident-related consequences.

Source: CBS News, "The biggest distractions that cause car crashes", Randy Dotinga, Feb. 23, 2016

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