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Stopping distracted driving can involve technical solutions

The threat posed by distracted driving can be a major danger for New York motorists. The ubiquitous presence of smartphones has meant that texting while driving, emailing and using other apps are constant distractions. In fact, a number of experts on safety have cautioned that the apparent ongoing increase in fatal car accidents in recent years is linked to the growing popularity of smartphones. Of course, however, smartphones aren't the only cause of driving distractions; even the car's own built-in navigation and entertainment systems can divert a driver's eyes.

There is a widespread recognition of the practical dangers caused by driving while texting. However, surveys show that large numbers of drivers continue to engage in - and admit to - these practices. In a survey by Consumer Reports, over half of the licensed drivers who are also smartphone owners said that they sometimes browse the web, text or send email while behind the wheel. Sometimes, obstacles can help to prevent this behavior. For example, smartphone manufacturers include driving mode options that block incoming notifications and send automatic replies to text messages that arrive.

NTSB report proposes ways to discourage speeding

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, speeding is the main cause behind the increase in traffic deaths in New York and across the U.S. The agency has released a report showing how 31 percent of all traffic fatalities from 2005 to 2014 were the result of speeding. The number of fatalities (112,580) was second only to the number of drunk driving deaths (112,948).

The NTSB has shown how going even 10 mph over the speed limit can drastically cut down the chances of a pedestrian surviving a collision, from a 60 percent chance at 30 mph to a 40 percent chance at 40 mph. The report states that current speed limits do not help.

Tips for avoiding pedestrian accidents

Pedestrian accidents can involve just about anyone at anytime, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the three groups that are most at risk are people 65 and older, children ages 5 to 9, and people who have had too much to drink. Drivers in New York will want to consider the following tips so that they can safely share the road with pedestrians.

It all begins with backing out of the driveway. Drivers should take their time and turn their head back rather than rely only on the mirrors. They should also be cautious around crosswalks since pedestrians always have the right-of-way on them. It's easy to forget that any intersection, whether or not it is marked, is a crosswalk by law. Violating pedestrians' safety buffer in these areas can sometimes lead to fines.

Bicycle use expected to surge with L train closure

New Yorkers who rely on the L train to get into Manhattan from Brooklyn may need to find alternative means of transportation. The L train crossing under the East River is scheduled to be closed for 15 months while it undergoes planned repairs.

According to news sources, the city is encouraging people to turn to bicycles as their means of transportation. Currently, an estimated 7,600 people already use bicycles to cross from Brooklyn to Manhattan over the Williamsburg Bridge. The New York City Department of Transportation said that the number of bicyclists who travel over the Williamsburg Bridge is expected to triple during the L train closure period.

President's proclamation urges impaired driving prevention

New York residents should know about the dangers of impaired driving; even one alcoholic beverage can affect driving performance and increase the risk of an accident. There is no better time to raise awareness of this than the holiday season, which is partly why President Trump has signed a proclamation designating December 2017 as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.

The Trump administration has done several things to reduce the number of fatalities resulting from impaired driving; for example, it supports American companies devoted to innovations like ride-hailing services and the manufacturing of self-driving vehicles, and it has even reduced harmful regulations to smooth the way for technological development. However, as the president recognizes, every individual has a responsibility to try and prevent impaired driving. Bringing up the topic with family, friends, schools, and community organizations is encouraged.

Pokémon Go: distracting drivers since 2016

Pokémon Go, the smartphone-based game that caused a sensation back in 2016, was a factor in many accident cases across New York and the rest of the U.S., as players became so distracted by the game that they injured themselves and others. Though the game has been waning in popularity, the first few months of its existence remain a testimony to the dangers of distracted driving.

A recent study has analyzed crash data in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, focusing on the months leading up to and following the July 2016 launch of Pokémon Go. Two professors from Purdue University wrote the study and shared it online, although it has yet to be peer-reviewed, and their conclusions can be startling. They found that car accident rates increased by 26.5 percent in those intersections where a Pokéstop developed within a 100-meter radius. Many of the accident reports, culled out of nearly 12,000, attributed the cause to a distracted driver.

Study finds that drivers with ADHD are more likely to crash

New York motorists and parents who have children getting ready to drive may be interested to learn that adolescents who have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are 36 percent more likely to become involved in a car crash. However, research indicates that the risks surrounding young drivers with ADHD are manageable.

ADHD is a condition that has a number of different symptoms, including impulsive behavior, hyperactivity and difficulty staying attentive. If the symptoms are untreated, they can cause a driver to become impaired in a way that resembles drunk or intoxicated driving. As such, these behaviors often cause drivers to become inattentive while the vehicle is in motion, resulting in a serious car accident.

How night shift workers risk drowsiness on the road

In New York and the rest of the U.S., drowsiness caused by night shifts and rotational shifts has become a public health hazard. Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital have conducted a study to determine how shift work can lead to poor driving performance and sometimes accidents.

A total of 16 night shift workers were selected for the study, which consisted of two driving sessions on a closed driving track. Participants drove after sleeping an average of 7.6 hours the previous night, and then drove for a second time after a normal night shift. In half of all the sessions, drivers failed to maintain control of their vehicle.

Car crash deaths increase in New York and rest of U.S.

In 2016, a total of 37,461 people in America died in car crashes, according to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This marks a 9-year high in the number of car crash deaths, outnumbered only by 2007 when 41,259 people were killed.

The increase comes as a shock to some, especially those who recall that the Obama administration made it a goal to eliminate roadway deaths as much as possible over the next 30 years. The plan is expected to take off with the development of self-driving cars; the House of Representatives has even approved a proposal to this end, which could garner exemptions for automakers that deploy self-driving vehicles.

Cellphones distract drivers in 3 ways

Motorists looking at their cellphone screens instead of concentrating on the road ahead are becoming an alarmingly common sight in New York, and federal accident data suggests that the popularity of modern smartphones has led to a surge in distracted driving deaths. Figures from the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration reveal that accidents involving one or more distracted drivers claimed 3,154 lives and caused more than 400,000 injuries in 2013 alone.

Cellphone use while behind the wheel is particularly dangerous because it distracts drivers in several ways. People are visually distracted when they look away from the road to read text messages or screen incoming phone calls, and they are cognitively distracted when they engage in conversations or compose text messages. Cellphones also cause manual distractions when drivers take their hands off the steering wheel to use their phones.

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