Distracted driving is a growing problem in New York

Distracted driving accidents claim thousands of lives around the country each year, and the problem has become more serious in recent years as Americans have become more reliant on their cellphones. In 2013 alone, distracted driving crashes killed 3,154 road users and left more than 400,000 others injured according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but road safety advocates say that this kind of accident is underreported and that the true figures are likely much higher.

There are three types of distractions that drivers should be aware of. Cognitive distraction occurs when the mind wanders because of a preoccupation or conversation while visual distractions cause drivers to look away from the road ahead. Drivers are manually distracted when they take one or both of their hands off the steering wheel, and cellphone use while driving can cause all three driving distractions simultaneously.

There are a number of steps that drivers can take to reduce their chances of being involved in a distracted driving accident. GPS systems should be programmed and cellphones switched off before embarking, and road safety groups urge those who must stay in touch to use hands free devices only in emergency situations. Eating should be done at a table and not behind the wheel, and children and pets should be securely restrained by seat belts, harnesses or child safety seats at all times.

Establishing liability in car accident cases involving distracted drivers can be challenging for personal injury attorneys. Unlike intoxication, distraction has no lingering effects, and motorists are rarely eager to admit to police that they were using their cellphones when they crashed. In such situations, experienced attorneys may study wireless usage details, cellphone records and the information captured by vehicle electronics systems for evidence that could be used to establish negligence.

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