Imagine you’re driving down a road – no different than any other road. It’s an ordinary, clear day. Perhaps you’re on the highway, heading into work. Your eyes scan the road ahead, dimly aware of the other cars around you. Your phone pings next to you – sharp and unexpected. Suddenly, your eyes shift off the road and your world changes. Everybody else slammed their brakes for the oncoming traffic jam. Everybody but you.

Maybe you’re driving and you realize you left something on the dashboard. You reach for it and swerve. Or you’re getting your hair out of your eyes by pulling it back into a ponytail (I’ve seen that before). Or changing a radio station to something you prefer.

April is known as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Approximately 3,000 deaths and 280,000 injuries occur per year as a result of distracted driving. The number of total accidents overall is triple that.  While usage of a cell phone is the most commonly known cause of distracted driving, any distraction can be a hazard. The key factor is that your attention is not on the road in front of you – on your own reactions in relation to the road. You can’t react if you’re not looking to see if the car in front of you has stopped, if someone has switched into your lane in front of you, if you’re still driving straight down the road.

The CDC separates these distractions into three categories:

Visual –when your eyes are not on the road

Manual – when your hands aren’t on the wheel

Cognitive – when your mind is not on driving

New York was one of the first states to act against the rising casualties of distracted driving. One of the first measures was to ban use of hand-held devices (such as cellphones) while driving. New York State continues to implement penalties for those who find the temptation of these diversions too alluring. Despite all efforts, reckless drivers continue to plague the roads – eyes glued to their phones, taking their hands off the wheel. Even if you’re the most careful driver in the world, there are many others out there that fall prey to these lapses in concentration. If you or a loved one have become a victim of an accident as a result of distracted driving, contact The Licatesi Law Group at (516) 227-2662 for a free consultation.