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Studies find link between auto accidents and distracted drivers

Some drivers in New York might not be aware of the perils associated with driving and texting at the same time. In fact, there is an alarming correlation between all types of cellphone use while driving and catastrophic motor vehicle accidents, according to a number of statistics and studies amassed by the Federal Communications Commission. Citing such statistics and studies, lawmakers in many states, including New York, have passed laws prohibiting the use of hand-held mobile telephones while driving.

Compared to people who drive without distractions, motorists who actively text while driving are 23 times more likely to crash, according to a study out of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 18 percent of the auto accidents nationwide were attributed to distracted driving in 2010. That year, distracted drivers were responsible for killing 3,092 individuals in total and injuring 416,000 more. A Pew survey finds that four out of ten teens have, admittedly, been in a vehicle with a driver whose cellphone use put people in danger.

While federal lawmakers have not implemented a prohibition against this particular type of distracted driving, several states have their own bans on texting and other forms of cellphone use while driving a motor vehicle. New York is one of those states.

Yet, New York motorists who use a cellphone while driving may face not only criminal penalties but also civil action if they become involved in an accident that results in injuries or fatalities. For, people who suffer damages in connection with an accident attributed to distracted driving may seek to hold the at-fault driver liable in civil court.

Source: fcc.gov, "The Dangers of Texting While Driving", September 12, 2014

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