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How dangerous is distracted driving?

New York City drivers should be aware of the deadly consequences of distracted driving. While some may be aware of the dangers of texting behind the wheel, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is "any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving."

Distractions can be classified as either visual, manual or cognitive and include:

-- All cellphone use while driving

-- Disciplining children while driving

-- Interacting with other passengers

-- Grooming oneself (doing hair or make-up)

-- Reading

-- Checking maps

-- Operating navigation systems

-- Watching videos

-- Adjusting CDs or radio stations

-- Adjusting temperature settings inside a vehicle

-- Smoking

-- Eating and drinking

Visual distractions occur when drivers' eyes leave the road as they attempt another task. One example is spilling a coffee while driving, so they glance down at the damage and run off the road.

Manual distractions involve drivers' hands being off the wheel as they do something like change a radio station or dig around in a purse.

Cognitive distractions occur when drivers stop concentrating on driving because their minds are occupied elsewhere. It could be something like thinking about a fight with a spouse or parent or what to cook for dinner, but driving is no longer paramount.

Texting is particularly egregious because it involves the entire trio of distraction simultaneously. This is why texting has such a bad reputation: it always involves all three types of distraction, all at once.

The dangers are real. A researcher at the University of Utah discovered that conversing on a cellphone increases the risk of an accident by four times, similar to the rates of accidents by drunk drivers. For those texting, the rate jumps to eight times the risk.

In 2009, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conducted a study of commercial vehicle collisions. Their research showed that texting drivers create a crash risk that is 23 times greater than those driving with no distractions.

The average sent or received text distracts drivers for approximately five seconds. When traveling at highway speeds, that time represents distances of around 300 feet wherein the car essentially driving itself.

If you have been injured or lost a loved on to a distracted driver, a New York City personal injury attorney may be able to get you compensation through the courts.

Source: End Distracted Driving, "Learn the Facts About Distracted Driving" Nov. 18, 2014

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