Reuven Blau, DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU
City drivers aren't keeping their eyes on the road.
There was an average of 541 car accidents each day in August, and the leading cause was drivers yapping on their phones, texting or posting a status update, new police data shows.
"Without a doubt the new technology that we have has created a lot more opportunity for distraction," AAA New York spokesman Robert Sinclair Jr. said.
Driver inattention caused 1,877 - 11% - of the 16,784 total car crashes in August, the first month for which data are available.
The numbers were made public last week as part of a new city law requiring the NYPD to post information about each major car crash.
The numbers show that tailgating motorists caused 812 smashups in August, while drivers who failed to yield the right of way caused 629 car crashes.
Only 197 accidents were due to speeding and a mere 19 were linked to a rowdy passenger.
In total, six motorists, three passengers, three bicyclists and three pedestrians were killed in August.
It is unclear how many of those fatal crashes were caused by drivers who were texting or chatting.
"New Yorkers don't want to waste a second," said Councilwoman Jessica Lappin (D-Manhattan), who sponsored the bill requiring the crash data to be made public. "I still see people still talking on their phone and texting while driving when they are stopped at a red light."
A recent federal study found that distracted drivers caused up to 25% of all crashes nationally. Those distractions also include fiddling with a GPS device and changing radio stations.
Officially, the NYPD blames five crashes in August specifically on phone use, and places the 1,877 in the more general "driver inattention/distraction" category.
The majority of the August accidents involved passenger vehicles, but there were 1,033 cabbie crashes. Most of those hack hits - 742 - took place in Manhattan.
In July, Gov. Cuomo signed into law a bill toughening penalties for drivers caught texting on the road.
The law, which took effect immediately, allows police to pull a driver over just for texting or using a hand-held electronic device. It also increases the penalty for offenders from two to three points on their license, and even includes a fine of up to $150.