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Understanding the dangers of distracted drivers on the road

Most people are aware of the risk involved with distracted driving, but far too many people think that they can manage a vehicle and distractions simultaneously. People can think that driving distracted is a bad idea and still decide to read or compose a text while driving, get into an argument with a passenger or eat a burrito while merging into traffic.

When someone indulges the impulse for distraction while behind the wheel, it can leave everyone else on the road at increased risk for a crash. No matter how carefully you drive, all it takes is one person not watching the road to cause a life-altering collision with your vehicle. Knowing the risk factors can help you identify potentially dangerous situations on the road.

Distracted drivers hurt and kill people every day

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine people in the United States die every day in crashes caused by distracted drivers. More than 1,000 other people end up injured in collisions due to distracted drivers. The risks associated with distracted driving simply aren't enough to keep people focused on the road.

While New York has made distracted driving illegal, many people still flout this law, posting to social media while operating a vehicle or otherwise taking their focus away from the task of driving safely.

Distracted driving is against the law in New York

New York law doesn't even allow drivers to talk on a handheld mobile phone. Bluetooth or hands-free devices are the only legal option if you need to take or receive calls on the road. Any kind of texting, social media use, web browsing or game playing is also illegal.

There are penalties for those who get caught without causing a crash. First time offenses result in a fine of between $50 and $200. The fine for a second offense within 18 months ranges from $50 to $250, and third or subsequent offenses in that 18-month period can cost between $50 and $450. Drivers also incur a penalty of five violation points on their license.

Cellphones aren't the only source of distraction

While law enforcement specifically targets cellphone use and texting in enforcement efforts, they aren't the only potentially dangerous sources of distraction. Drivers who choose to eat, reach into the passenger seat or rear of the vehicle, adjust their clothing, apply makeup or even change the music in the vehicle also focus on something other than driving. Any of these forms of distraction can lead to a crash and the potential for injury and death.

For those who end up hurt because of someone else's distracted driving, the costs for the crash can prove overwhelming. Between property damage, medical bills and lost wages during recovery, a crash caused by distracted driving can result in massive financial losses, as well as decreased quality of living.

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