stay safe out there
If you're reading this from Mississippi, please put your phone down and look at the road! A massive new study of 2.3 million drivers by Zendrive found that not even the threat of going to jail seems to be able to stop people from using their phones while behind the wheel, and Mississippians are the worst abusers of the bunch, Bloomberg reports. Almost 18 percent of drivers in the Magnolia State are considered "phone addicts," meaning they call, text, or fiddle with apps at a rate that is more than three times that of the average driver — and that's even with a statewide ban on texting in place.
Mississippi isn't an outlier in that regard, though. In the 15 states that have taken the additional step of banning handheld devices altogether, the number of "phone addicts" only dropped by 2 points, or down to 10 percent. There could be even more distracted drivers out there than Zendrive was able to record, too: The study only noted when a phone was moved around in a car, but it wouldn't count drivers who might be distracted by mounted phones.
In what is probably a surprise to anyone who lives there, New England and the Pacific Northwest had the most low-risk drivers. Areas with the most high-risk drivers were dotted through the South:
Zendrive CEO Jonathan Matus told Bloomberg the lack of a deterrent is the most alarming fact. "That's an area of great concern to me," he said. "It means either the rules are not known, the enforcement is not effective, or people are so addicted to their phones they're willing to take the risk."