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Curbing distracted driving: Are we getting any better at this?

If there is a single area in the United States where distracted driving denotes an uppercase concern, it must surely comprise the roadways in and around New York City.

New York drivers flatly know that to be true. Streets are crowded, traffic patterns can be complicated, pedestrians are seemingly everywhere and weather conditions can change on a dime. That combined variability and complexity render it imperative that drivers focus, well, on driving, and not on their Facebook status.

Or on their Twitter accounts or the shiny new features on their smartphones.

Readers who think that such an admonition is a bit over the top -- perhaps even alarmist -- are likely not familiar with a recurring annual report that focuses on the extreme dangers of distracted driving. Among other things, that State Farm-authored product centrally notes this: Nationally, the percentage of drivers who confess to using the Internet while behind the wheel has doubled over the past six years.

And here’s an eye-popping number associated with that finding: That hiked percentage amounts to a full quarter of all drivers on the road.

How dangerous is that? State Farm also notes from its latest survey that 25 percent of respondents admit to reading their email while driving.

The implications of such behaviors for car accidents and personal injuries are obvious, indeed. And it is interesting to note, as does State Farm, that drivers’ increased engagement with such activities is occurring at the same time that they have curbed their inclination to talk on hand-held phones or text while in traffic.

Clearly, distracted driving continues to be a persistent -- indeed, a seemingly intractable -- nemesis in New York and nationally.

That must change, of course, through enhanced educational and enforcement efforts. If it doesn’t, the personal injury toll on American streets and highways will surely increase.

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