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Distracted driver program. NYSTLA

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According to a national study conducted by the American Automobile Association, or AAA, motorists on Long Island say that hands-free cellphone technology brings newer distractions to driving.

Drivers talking on their cellphone have a slower reaction time and a lack of awareness according to researchers at the University of Utah. New technology, including speech-to-text, which can send text messages, post to Facebook on voice command and email, had become the greatest distraction to drivers.

While cellphone usage is a distraction, hands-free technology is perceived to be a safer alternative but is actually more distracting, in the study by AAA. According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the percentage of car accidents caused by cellphone use, in  New York State, have risen by almost 50 percent to 609 accidents in 2011 from 407 in 2006.

There are more than 9 million cars and trucks on the road with these infotainment systems and 62 million expected by 2018.

Since 2011, the restrictions on texting while driving have been strengthened by lawmakers. Police officers are allowed to pull over drivers they observe using a mobile device. The fines for the violation have been increased and in cases of younger drivers who have been caught texting while driving their licenses have been suspended.

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