THE DANGERS OF DISTRACTED DRIVING AND NEW YORK’S CELL PHONE LAW

car accident

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), every day, nine people are killed because of distracted driving. Just five seconds of diverted attention at 55 miles per hour equates to driving the entire length of a football field blindfolded. Young drivers are especially vulnerable to being involved in distracted driving accidents. Between being more likely to use a phone while driving, more likely to drink and drive, and less likely to wear a seatbelt, young drivers pose a heightened risk on the road.

Distracted driving is any activity that can take your attention away from driving and can be visual, cognitive and/or manual. All pose a danger to those on the road but not all are not illegal in the state of New York. Visual distractions occur when a driver takes their eyes off the road. Cognitive distractions are essentially thoughts, or when the driver becomes distracted by those thoughts. Manual distractions occur when the driver takes their hands off the wheel. One example of manual distraction is the use of cell phones while driving. Though any form of distracted driving can be dangerous, New York’s distracted driving laws only apply when a law enforcement official sees a cell phone in a driver’s hand while the vehicle is in motion.

To reduce the use of cell phones while driving and resulting accidents, New York has enacted strict laws for the use of mobile electronic devices while driving. In the State of New York any form of use of a mobile electronic device is prohibited including talking on a cell phone, texting sending emails, taking pictures and playing games. In recent years, the New York legislature has harshened the penalties for using a mobile electronic device. One violation can result in 5 points on your license as well as fines. Because young drivers pose a heightened risk on roadways, a violation of this law while driving on a learner’s permit or junior license, results in an automatic 120-day suspension of their driver’s license.

According to a recent survey, while 90% of Americans find it “unacceptable” that drivers text while driving, 35% of the respondents surveyed admitted to doing just that. To keep the road safer, it is important to be a role model to young people while at the wheel. Keep the phone away and emphasize their responsibility to stay focused while driving. Turning the phone’s setting to “airplane mode” will prohibit calls and other notifications from coming in. This greatly decreases the chance that a phone will become a distraction.

In the unfortunate event that you are injured by a distracted driver, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Spiegel, Brown and Fichera, LLP for a consultation of your case free of charge.