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There are few things that you can be accused of while driving that are worse than getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol. But when it comes to adversely affecting driver performance drunk driving, bad enough as it is, may be taking a back seat to a relatively new phenomenon: texting while driving.

It may seem counterintuitive, given that someone who sends or reads a text message (and who hasn't been drinking) can at least claim to be sober, but the body of statistical evidence strongly suggests that in fact it is much more dangerous to be texting while driving than to be drunk driving.

For example, according to the National Highway & Transportation Safety Administration people who text and drive are about one-quarter more likely than drunk drivers to get into an accident. The available data suggests that texting and driving is the equivalent to drinking four beers when it comes to the effects on driver concentration and attention to the road.

One of the things that makes texting so dangerous is that it requires the driver to take his or her eyes off of the road. The average length time spent reading or typing a text message is more than 20 seconds; if you can imagine driving with your eyes closed for that long, then you can gain some idea of how much of a problem this can become.

As smartphones become more prevalent in society, texting and driving has begun to supplant drunk driving as a source of car accident-related injuries and deaths. The NHTSA estimates that about 25 percent of accidents today, more than 1.5 million across the country, is connected to texting and driving.

Texting and driving is illegal in New York, and the legal penalties for engaging in that activity even without getting into an accident are severe, including a license suspension of the first conviction. If you find yourself being charged with texting while driving either as a stand-alone accusation or in connection with a car accident, you will need vigorous representation by a dedicated New York traffic attorney to defend yourself from the potentially devastating consequences.

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