Moblie apps, texting likely cause for surge in traffic deaths

New numbers show there’s been a dramatic spike in fatalities on our roads. And the government says the problem is only getting worse, with a more than 10% spike in the first half of 2016 over the same time period last year.

Safety experts are saying are pointing to call phones and all the new distractions they offer as a leading cause.

A decade ago calls and texts became a focus of the distracted driving conversation.

Today throw in endless apps, that may warn against use while behind the wheel though drivers admit they rarely do.

“My phone is going ding ding ding ding ding, different dings all the time, so you just kind of have a habit of looking it, I mean you’re taking your eyes off the road,” said Jamie Hensley, who drives 6 hours a day for her job.

“I’m as guilty as anybody. You know I try to be disciplined about it and put the phone away but you get caught up in it,” said another driver, Reed Stacey.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes that’s behind a major surge in traffic deaths, the largest in 50 years.

It found a 7.2% spike in fatalities from 2014 to last year, and even more sobering, a 10.4% jump in the first six months of 2016. That’s than 17,775 deaths.

“It is a big spike and I’m not surprised,” said Stacey.

While South Carolina Highway Patrol says our state’s numbers are on par with last year, troopers are concerned about how cell phones put entire families in danger.

“We were at a school earlier this morning talking to some 5th and 6th graders and we asked the students, how many of your parents text and drive and almost everybody raises their hands. It seems like it’s growing at an exponential rate,” said Trooper Joe Hovis.

“I think the more it gets thrown in my face, the better it will be, so if you do stories, if I hear about it on a more regular basis, that would certainly help,” said Stacey.

There are a lot of safety apps and new car features designed to help drivers go hands free, but so far there are no known studies that indicate how effective those tools are at preventing crashes.

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