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These facts underscore the dangers of texting while driving

By now drivers throughout New York are probably aware that distracted driving is a serious problem. State law prohibits use of handheld portable electronic devices while driving. More specifically, texting while driving is banned.

Still, many drivers are frequently distracted by their cell phones, and the job of educating people as to the dangers of distracted driving is an ongoing effort. Following are some facts and statistics that underscore the potentially devastating consequences of distracted driving.

A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute shows that an auto accident is three times more likely when a driver is distracted by a handheld phone or other portable electronic device. In fact, texting requires your visual, manual and cognitive attention, but so does driving. When these capacities are compromised, so is your ability to drive safely.

The same transportation institute determined that texting while driving takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of five seconds. The researchers likened this kind of distraction to driving for five seconds while blindfolded. Consider, too, that if you’re moving at 55 miles per hour, then you can travel the length of a football field in five seconds. Why would anyone do that while wearing a blindfold?

While there is significant emphasis on the dangers of using handheld devices behind the wheel, studies have shown that using a headset, rather than a handheld phone, is not significantly safer for drivers.

The bottom line is that, in order to prevent distracted-driving accidents, motorists must take personal responsibility for their actions and refrain from using their cell phones while behind the wheel.

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