Virginia drivers were 57% more likely to manipulate a cellphone in 2018 than they were when IIHS conducted the same study in 2014, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found in an observational survey.
Specifically, the percentage of drivers observed fiddling with a cellphone while behind the wheel rose from 2.3% in 2014 to 3.4% in 2018.
Another key finding from the study concerns crash deaths — some 800 roadway fatalities in 2017 alone can be attributed to drivers interacting with their cellphones while operating the vehicle.
In a statement, the National Safety Council said the latest IIHS study reinforces that "distracted driving continues to plague our roadways."
The study also indicates that drivers are using their cellphones in new ways. While manipulation of cellphones increased in 2018, talking on a hand-held or simply holding one decreased.
In 2018, 3.7% of drivers in Northern Virginia were observed talking on a hand-held cellphone, compared with 4.1% in 2014, while 2.8% of drivers in 2018 were seen holding a cellphone, compared with 4.9% in the prior survey.
As for other distracted driving behaviors beyond cellphone use, the IIHS reports that approximately 14% of drivers in 2014 and 2018 were engaged in some form — exceeding the proportion of drivers observed using cellphones in both years.
Specific behaviors that were more prevalent in drivers in 2018 versus 2014 include manipulating an in-vehicle system, grooming, and manipulating or holding an electronic device other than a cellphone.