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Deadly Driving: Distraction Behind the Wheel

According to research published in April 2013 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a key source of educational information about distracted driving behavior in the U.S., there are over 660,000 vehicles being driven by someone using a handheld cell phone at any given moment. Distraction behind the wheel can come in three primary forms: manual, which involves removing hands from the wheel, cognitive, which involves situations where driver focus is diverted from the road, and visual, where a driver’s eyes are not on the roadway around them. Cell phones are a leading cause of lost focus and car accidents.

While texting and other distracted behaviors are causing accidents around the country, it’s also an issue right at home in New York. According to statistics from the governor’s office, there was a 143 percent increase in cell phone –related car accidents in New York between 2005 and 2011. While data indicate a 4 percent decrease in DWI arrests between 2011 and 2012, there was a 234 percent increase in tickets handed out for texting and driving in New York.

Under New York state law, all drivers are forbidden from using electronic devices while operating a vehicle. Illegal behavior includes using a mobile phone to play games, viewing or composing content like emails or webpages, transmitting messages or images, or talking on a handheld phone.

While all drivers are subject to the laws banning handheld cell phones, this doesn’t mean that all drivers discontinue their distracted behavior or abide by the law. Those most at risk are teenagers. A 2012 survey completed by AT&T indicates that 43 percent of teens admit to texting and driving, even though 97 percent also report awareness that doing so is risky. Newer to the road to begin with, losing focus in the car can put teens at a high risk of being involved in a major car accident.

A common misconception with teens and adults is that since text messages or reading on the phone only pulls attention away for a few seconds, that it’s not long enough to cause a driver to lose control of the car. Research released by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in May 2013 says otherwise, noting that just text messaging pulled a driver’s focus for an average of 23 seconds, doubling a crash risk. Picking up a phone to complete a call tripled the crash risk.

Even a brief loss of attention from the road can cost a driver in big ways. Car accidents resulting from distracted driving tend to be particularly gruesome, generating critical injuries or fatalities. A surviving accident victim may miss time and earnings from work, be hit with mounting medical bills, and suffer mentally and physically as they attempt to recover. Distracted driving has become all too common a foundation for personal injury cases in New York and beyond.

If you have been injured in a car accident, then you may be entitled to a large settlement to pay for medical bills and lost wages as well as for your pain and suffering, both in the past and the future. Jayson Lutzky is a highly experienced New York accident and personal injury attorney who offers free in-office consultations. Consultations are also available at your home or hospital if you have been seriously injured. Call 718-329-9500 to set up a no-obligation appointment and visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com to learn more about Mr. Lutzky.

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