A new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety looked at drivers using their phones while on the road, regardless of whether or not they used a hands-free device. Despite state laws restricting that use, AAA said they haven't kept people from doing it.
"The conclusion that they came to was that there's no difference, that they both can cause up to four times the likelihood of an accident," said AAA's Wayne Northey.
And area drivers see that borne out every day. Larry Bell travels on Interstate 79 on a regular basis, and he said those state laws aren't making driving any safer. He sees people trying to read maps, or worse, read books, and of course, many people still haven't been able to put down their phones.
"I'm on the road every day a lot between here and Morgantown, and there's not a day that goes by that I don't encounter that. A lot of distracted driving, mostly with the phone, and not only talking on the phone, but the texting is a major problem," said local driver Larry Bell.
And while highway driving is a problem, area law enforcement officers like Sheriff John Hawkins in Barbour County said people need to be just as vigilant while driving through residential neighborhoods. He said driving at 25 miles per hour will still move you 40 feet per second, and that's fast enough to cause some serious problems.
"A roadway or city street is only thirty feet wide, so you can be clear up in somebody's yard without even noticing if you look away from the road for three or four seconds while you're doing something," Hawkins said.