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Everyone knows we are all using our phones while driving. A lot.

And now there is hard data to back it up. Zendrive studied actual device use among 3.1 million drivers over 5.6 billion miles of driving and found that in 88 percent of trips, drivers made at least some use of their phones. On average, drivers spent 3.5 minutes per hour on their device.

Expand chart

Data: Zendrive; Map: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

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.

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 percent 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 percent of the time.

"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."

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Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

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  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
3 hours ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania. 

Updated 4 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.