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Are Phone-Addicted Drivers More Dangerous Than Drunk Drivers?

After crunching data on 4.5 billion miles of driving, road-safety analytics company Zendrive concludes there’s a new threat which just last year claimed the lives of 6,227 pedestrians: drivers “under the influence of a smartphone.”

The study points out that drunk driving fatalities peak after midnight, while distracted driving happens all day, conluding that distracted driving is now a bigger threat than drunk driving.

“Phone addicts are the new drunk drivers,” Zendrive concludes bluntly in its annual distracted driving study. The big picture: The continued increase in unsafe driving comes despite stricter laws in many states, as well as years of massive ad campaigns from groups ranging from cell phone carriers to orthopedic surgeons. “They hide in plain sight, blatantly staring at their phones while driving down the road,” Zendrive says in the study.

And it’s a growing problem. Over just the past year, Zendrive, which analyzes driver behavior for fleets and insurers, said the number of hardcore phone addicts doubled, now accounting for one in 12 drivers. If the current trend continues, that number will be one in five by 2022.

The report concludes drivers are 10 percent more distracted this year than last — and that phone addicts have their eyes off the road for 28% of their drive. Yet when asked to describe their driving, 93% of phone addicts said they believed they were “safe” — or “extremely safe” — drivers.

One even insisted that they never texted while driving, “but I like to FaceTime my friends while driving since it makes time go by faster.”