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Study confirms everyone is on their phones while driving

We are all using our phones while driving. A lot.

And now we have hard data to back that up. Zendrive studied the actual device use among 3.1 million drivers over 5.6 billion miles of driving and found drivers on 88% of trips used their phone at least some, with the average driver spending 3.5 minutes per hour on their device.

Other findings:

  • Six of the 10 states where people spent the least time on their device had laws imposing some restrictions on phone use while driving.
  • However, Vermont, which had the highest rate of device usage, also has a law against doing so. Drivers there spent nearly 7.5% of their time on their phones.
  • Oregon has the lowest rate of driver phone use, though drivers were still on their phones more than 3% of the time.

Some important context: The number of traffic deaths has been increasing since 2015 after a 40-year decline, with more than 40,000 people dying on the roads last year for the first time in a decade. It is estimated that a 2-second distraction increases the risk of a collision by 20 times.

"The results certainly make me feel less safe on the road," Zendrive CEO Jonathan Matus told Axios. "We all know this first hand — we see folks on the road on their phones all the time and many of us would admit that we too are doing it several times every trip. ... But until today it hasn't been clear just how big and how common the problem is."

A chat with Color Genomics medical chief Jill Hagenkord

As chief medical officer for Color Genomics, Jill Hagenkord sees her job as harnessing the smarts of the tech industry while explaining some of the practical realities of the health care field.

Color, which offers a $249 test to help people understand their risk for genetically tied breast, colon and ovarian cancers, has tapped an array of Silicon Valley talent, including recent hires from Fitbit and Twitter.

"I feel sometimes like I am the grown up in the room," says Hagenkord, who previously worked at 23andMe. "I try to show them where the bumpers are, where the big bright lines are... I help them pick their battles."

And Color is definitely picking its battles. While its labs are fully credentialed, the company isn't looking for insurers to pay for its test. Instead, the company has tried to reach a price where consumers or their self-insured employers are willing to foot the bill.

"There's conventions you can break and then there's laws you can't break," Hagenkord said.

A few more key points:

  • Why genetic tests for cancer: Until recently, genetic testing was done only on sick people, or those who knew themselves to be a high risk. But, a mutated gene like BRCA can raise a woman's risk of getting breast cancer to 80 percent from the typical 10 percent. And the latest technology makes it affordable to test for that, and other genetic markers. "Everyone really should be screened."
  • On regulators: "Everybody is pushing FDA to modernize. That's like watching grass grow."
  • Next for Color: The company is looking to test for other diseases, things like a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol. Getting those rare people on drugs early could clearly save lives, while a broader conversation is needed even for those without a genetic link. "We've studied this to death," Hagenkord said, adding that 60 percent of people supposed to be on statin drugs are not taking them and half of people go off the drugs in the first six months.
Amazon India growing as rivals see mobile usage level off

Amazon India appears to be gaining ground in the Indian e-commerce market against homegrown rivals Flipkart and Snapdeal. According to 7Park Data, which tracks mobile app usage, Amazon is continuing to grow in terms of monthly active users, while e-commerce giant Flipkart has seen usage level off — leaving both companies with about 30 percent of market share in India. (7parkdata said the panel size is "in the millions" and looks at Android-only usage.)

More here.

The gender gap in engineering and computer science

Computer science and engineering have become two of the most lucrative degrees in the U.S., but only a fraction of women are choosing to go into those fields of study, Alayna Treene reports. And the gender gap among the specific degrees within the "the sciences and engineering" field is actually much wider than universities might let on. It also illustrates the importance of examining why women are underrepresented in some fields and how to address that.

Take Note

On Tap: Netflix reports earning after the close.

Trading Places: With Jill Hazelbaker becoming head of Uber's global policy and communications efforts, Justin Kintz is taking over policy and communications in the Americas.

ICYMI: Axios' Sara Fischer on Facebook's latest video fiasco. ...Uber released its fourth quarter financials to Bloomberg on Friday, showing continued revenue gains, but also nearly $1 billion in losses, up 5 percent. ... The Verge's Casey Newton took a deep look at Facebook Instant Articles and found interest in the format is waning as publishers haven't gotten additional traffic or revenue and attention has shifted to video.

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