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Study: Distracted Driving Triples Crash Risk

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A new study shows cell phone use while driving more than triples the risk of getting in a crash.

The company Cambridge Mobile Telematics collected smartphone data from hundreds of thousands of drivers.

The study finds texting or even talking on the phone and driving are common factors in accidents. The company found phone distraction occurred in 52 percent of all trips that ended in a crash and drivers used the phone for an average of more than two minutes before the crash.

The study also found phone use by drivers only decreased slightly in state's with handheld cell phone bans.

"At 65 miles an hour it takes four seconds to go the length of a football field," said Sam Madden, chief scientist at Cambridge Mobile Telematics.

Traffic fatalities in the U.S. were dropping but now the number of deaths is rising and experts believe distracted driving is a major factor.

"Every age group is increasingly texting, we even see measurable percentages of drivers over 70 texting," said Ken Kolosh from the National Safety Council.

He wants a nationwide ban on using cell phones while driving, but he says we also need a cultural shift.

"We have to make it OK not to be connected 24 hours a day," Kolosh said.

The study was released days after a head-on crash involving a mini-bus and pickup truck left 13 people dead in Texas. Witnesses say the driver of the pickup truck admitted he was texting right before the crash.

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