What smartphone data can reveal about traffic accidents

More than a third of U.S. drivers were distracted by their cellphones in the 60 seconds before they crashed, according to a 2024 report from Cambridge Mobile Telematics. But smartphones can also help states and cities prevent collisions by identifying the locations where distracted driving leads to more accidents, said Gary Hallgren, president and CEO of Arity, an Allstate company that collects and analyzes transportation data.

“Over a long period of time, you can see clusters of accidents,” Hallgren said. Areas where there is more distracted driving, hard braking and speeding “are going to lead to hotspot areas” — even if they aren’t now, he said.

Arity collects data from smartphone sensors, mobile apps and connected vehicles regarding risky driving behaviors such as speeding, hard braking and mobile phone use as well as crash data, Hallgren explained. “There’s a very strong correlation between mucking around with your phone and hard-braking events,” he said.

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