New York Distracted Driving Accident Lawyers

distracted driving accident lawyerFor many people, driving is an every day occurrence that they may view as second nature. However, distracted driving occurs when a person loses focus on their primary task of driving and start to focus on something else. Whether caused by cell phones, other passengers, or trying to eat while driving, distracted driving is a common cause of car accidents that leads to thousands of deaths every year.

Types of Distracted Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as “a specific type of inattention that occurs when drivers divert their attention away from the driving task to focus on another activity instead.” Due to the various ways that a person may lose focus while driving, the NHTSA often divides distracted driving into three categories:

Visual Distractions

Visual distractions are any task, event, or situation that causes a person to take their eyes off the road. Examples of visual distractions include:

  • Reading text messages on a cell phone
  • Watching a video on a cell phone or other electronic device
  • Looking at navigation such as a GPS or map
  • Looking at another passenger or child in the car

Manual Distractions

Manual distractions occur when a person takes their hands off the wheel and are unable to be in full control of the vehicle. Manual and visual distractions sometimes overlap (called combination distractions), especially in the case of using a cell phone. Some manual distractions include:

  • Writing text messages
  • Answering a phone call
  • Eating and/or drinking
  • Changing the radio
  • Handing something to a child or other passenger
  • Grooming (putting on makeup, shaving, changing clothes, etc.)

Cognitive Distractions

Cognitive distractions involve a person’s mind focusing on another task and losing complete focus on the road. Cognitive distractions include:

  • Focusing on emotional or stressful situations
  • Having a conversation with a passenger
  • Talking on the phone
  • Aiding or disciplining a child
  • Arguments with children or other passengers

Distracted Driving Accident Statistics

  • In 2017, 3,166 people were killed in distracted driving crashes.*
  • 297 people died in car accidents involving distracted teen drivers in 2017.*
  • 2.9% of drivers used handheld cell phones in 2017 as opposed to 3.3% in 2016.*
  • A cell phone was in use in 14% of distraction-affected fatalities in 2016.**
  • In 2016, 562 non occupants (i.e. bicyclists, pedestrians, etc.) were killed in distraction-affected crashes.**
  • In 2016, 9% of teen drivers were distracted at the time of a fatal crash. Teens had the highest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of a fatal crash when compared to other age groups.**
  • Almost 80% of accidents involve the driver losing focus on the road in front of them just before the crash.***
  • In 2017, more than 2,000 tickets for distracted driving were given as part of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Operation Hang Up.***

* Data courtesy of the NHTSA’s distracted driving page.
** Data courtesy of the NHTSA’s report on Distracted Driving 2016.
*** Data courtesy of the New York Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee distracted driving page.

How To Avoid Distracted Driving Accidents

The New York Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee provides tips for both drivers and passengers as to how you may help to avoid distraction-based car crashes:

  • Maintain focus on your surroundings and the road ahead of you to reduce visual distractions.
  • Do not use your cell phone to text or call while driving. Remember to set up your GPS or music playlist before taking to the road. In the case of an emergency, pull off the road safely before using your device.
  • Avoid engaging in arguments or otherwise stressful conversations with other passengers to reduce cognitive distractions.
  • Avoid using your hands to eat, drink, or groom yourself while driving.
  • Do not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Remain quiet and alert if you are a passenger. However, you may wish to speak up if you notice the driver becoming distracted.
  • If you are a passenger, you may offer to help with manual distractions, such as navigation, changing the radio, or adjusting the temperature.

Signs of Distracted Driving

It is important to recognize when another driver on the road may be driving distracted. Signs of distracted driving may come from the driver’s behavior as well as the vehicle’s motion. Because of this, the NHTSA provides some distracted driving indicators you may wish to look out for:

  • Failure to signal when turning or changing lanes
  • Failure to maintain a consistent speed
  • Hand is seen holding a device
  • Nearly hitting another vehicle
  • Swerving into opposing traffic
  • Abrupt actions, such as turning or lane changes
  • Nodding up and down to check device

While some of these indicators are specific to using a cell phone, many apply to most distracted driving situations. Inconsistent speed, weaving, and forgetting to use signals are common signs that a driver’s attention may be on tasks other than driving.

If drivers are aware of the laws surrounding texting and driving in their area, they may try to hide their cell phone use. Indicators that a driver may be using their device include repeatedly looking down or the glow of a cell phone (if driving at night).

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is the official Distracted Driving Awareness Month.  According to the National Safety Council, Distracted Driving Awareness month is “a united effort to recognize the dangers of and eliminate preventable deaths from distracted driving”. Additionally, the NHTSA uses Distracted Driving Awareness Month for its own yearly “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign that similarly raises awareness about the dangers of driving distracted.

In the spirit of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, William Mattar law offices hosts a program every April called “Drive Distracted, Lives Impacted.” As part of this campaign, William Mattar and his team of injury attorneys travel to local schools and teach teen students about the dangers of texting and driving. By educating teen drivers about the consequences of driving while distracted early in life, William Mattar hopes it may help to prevent future distracted-based car crashes.

Hurt In A Distracted Driving Accident? Call William Mattar.

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With how common distracted driving is, it may be an issue that has personally affected you. If you have been injured in an accident where you believe the other driver may have been distracted, the car accident attorneys at William Mattar may be able to help. Fill out our contact form or call (844) 444-4444 for a free case evaluation today.


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