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NTSB cites distracted driving as priority

The federal National Transportation Safety Board cited the dangers posed by distracted drivers as one of its priorities in its most wanted list of transportation safety improvements for 2019. The NTSB is seeking action to prevent car accidents caused by distracted driving.

Distracted driving occurs when motorists divert their attention away from driving and do not perform basic safety tasks, such as monitoring the road and being vigilant to unexpected events. While other passengers and "infotainment" systems are distracting, cell phones and other personal electronic devices pose even more concern.

Distracted driving was involved in over 3,100 deadly accidents and 9 percent of all fatal accidents in this country in 2016. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, these crashes involved over 3,210 motorists because there was more than one distracted driver in the accident.

Manual distractions are not the only problem. Hands-free devices are still distracting because the motorist is multi-tasking by focusing on a conversation or something else besides driving. The NTSB has cited the involvement of hands-free devices in accidents.

Currently, 37 states and the District of Columbia restrict cell phone use by new drivers. 47 states ban texting and driving. The NTSB called for stringent enforcement of these laws and possible monitoring of roads to detain violators. The NTSB also made recommendations concerning vehicle manufacturers. The level of distraction should be evaluated when designing and installing infotainment systems. Access to devices should be restricted when a vehicle is moving. A victim of an auto accident caused by a distracted or negligent driver may be entitled to compensation.

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