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How distracted is your mass transit driver?

New York City residents and commuters rely on mass transit to get them to and from their jobs each day, as well as to many other destinations. As such, it is expected that the drivers, operators and pilots will be focused, sober and occupied with the task at hand.

However, distractions in any form divert the attention from the road, track or channel and can cause catastrophic injuries and deaths.

The National Transportation Safety Board studied the role of personal electronic devices in causing or contributing to 11 separate accidents since 2003. In those accidents, 259 individuals were injured and 50 lost their lives.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that in 2014, 3,179 people died due to distracted driving. Visual-manual distractions like texting raised the risk three times as high.

In transportation industries with stringent regulations against PEDs while operating, distractions can take the form of communication with ground crews, dispatchers and co-workers.

A culture of safety must be developed and followed to keep passengers safe. Following the aviation industry's "sterile cockpit" rules is one good idea. Changing the perception of the public to make these distractions unacceptable can also have a positive effect.

If you are in a car or riding in some form of mass transit and a distracted driver or operator causes a collision, they are clearly negligent. This opens up the door to civil litigation against the at-fault person(s) for the injuries and other damages suffered by the passengers.

Sometimes the negligence exhibited will rise to the level of criminal conduct, and charges may arise from the incident. But it is not necessary for someone to be charged with a crime in order to successfully pursue financial redress from them and their insurance companies.

Source: National Transportation Safety Board, "Disconnect from Deadly Distractions," accessed March 18, 2016

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