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New app gathers data for distracted driving study: Impact in TN

Have you ever found yourself driving or walking down the road and look over at another driver, only to realize that the driver is on his or her smartphone? Those who have this moment and experience frustration may soon have a path to not only vent these frustrations, but to make a difference.

This path comes in the form of a new study. The study makes use of an application for smartphones that was recently released which allows anyone that is interested to participate in gathering data about distracted driving.

Is distracted driving still an issue? Although educational efforts have touted the dangers of distracted driving, drivers throughout the country continue to use their smartphones while driving.

Tennessee has experienced an increase in distracted driver traffic crashes over the last three years. The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security gathered information about distracted driving crashes. The agency kept track of accidents with over $400 in damage and reports that there were 19,122 such crashes in 2013, 21,055 in 2014 and 22,964 in 2015.

Projections for distracted driving crashes in Tennessee during 2016 appear to follow the upward growth, with 18,288 crashes already reported as of October 11.

What led to this study? This study was initiated by two medical professionals that were frustrated with the number of patients that they were treating due to injuries sustained from distracted driving accidents.

One physician practices as an emergency department doctor and medical director, the other as a trauma anesthetist. The two came together and decided to try to make a change. The first step is gathering data through use of this app.

What's different about this study? The study, underway in Canada, is unique because it allows for public participation.

These two physicians helped put together an app that allows people to track distracted drivers. Participants simply download the app and input data about how many vehicles went by during the period of observation. Additional data about how many drivers appeared distracted and the types of distractions will also be included.

What can be gained from this study? The results of the study may help law makers throughout the world have a better understanding of how many drivers are distracted. This could lead to legislative efforts to help stem the problem, including increased penalties associated with distracted driving violations.

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