One of the most dangerous activities that nearly all of us have partaken in is texting while driving, a leading cause of accidents today. Distracted driving is a broad term, encompassing any time a driver’s attention is drawn away from the task of driving in a safe and defensive manner. This includes everything from tuning the radio, eating or drinking, reaching for objects, or even looking at a beautiful sunset. It also includes using an electronic portable device, such as a smart phone. Smart phones are amazing. They improve our lives in so many ways. However, they become deadly when being used while driving.
Consequences of Cell Phone Use While Driving
It is estimated that at least 23% of all car accidents each year involve cell phone use – that’s approximately 1.3 million crashes. Statistics show that texting while driving makes a driver 23 times more likely to crash, and drivers talking on a cell phone are 4 times more likely to have a car accident. Your attention can be taken away from the road when texting and driving, sometimes up to 5 seconds. If you are traveling at 55 miles per hour, this equals driving the length of a football field without looking at the road. Pretty scary right?
Teens and Distracted Driving
The largest ratio of distracted drivers is teenagers, as nearly 70% of drivers ages 16–19 reported talking on a cell phone while driving, and approximately 30% of drivers in the same age group reported texting while driving. Most young drivers say that they would answer a call or text while driving, but they would feel unsafe as a passenger if the driver was texting. This inconsistency can have disastrous consequences. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, texting while driving kills 11 teens each day, and teen drivers are 4 times more likely than adults to get into car crashes when talking or texting on a cell phone. In addition, teens driving with other passengers get distracted more easily than adults driving with passengers, as studies show that a teen driver doubles the risk of being involved in a fatal car crash when there are two or more passengers.
Keep in mind that cell phones are not the only form of distraction for teens. The New York Times reports that teenagers who eat while driving nearly triple the risk of a car accident, while texting quadruples the risk. Dialing a phone is the most dangerous activity while driving. When young people engage in tasks that take their eyes off the road, they are increasing the risk of a car accident significantly.
New York Has Tightened Its Distracted Driving Laws
In 2012, an estimated 3,331 people were killed and 416,000 were injured in accidents involving a distracted driver. All over the country, states are increasing the penalties for using a phone while driving. New York State has followed the pack and increased their penalty as well. Now, state law does not just ban the use of a phone for text messaging, but it bans any kind of task on a cell phone while driving, such as playing games, checking a sports score, reading an email, and even looking up driving directions.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has created special “Texting Zones” along the New York’s highways. Texting Zones are designated parking areas and rest stops where motorists can pull over to check and send text messages. In total, 91 Texting Zone locations have been set up. Additionally, road signs with messages like, “It can wait, Text Stop in 1 mile,” have been put up along the roadways surrounding the new Texting Zones to encourage drivers to use them. Governor Cuomo hopes that these new signs make drivers think twice about reaching for their phones, instead choosing to wait until the nearest Texting Zone. Texting Zones send a clear message to drivers that there is no excuse to take your hands off the wheel or eyes off the road because the text can wait until the next Texting Zone.
Penalties Have also Been Increased in NY
Texting while driving has become a major problem nationwide, especially in New York. A 2013 AT&T survey showed that 49% of drivers text while driving. That’s a lot of people taking their eyes off the road to type out a message on a tiny keyboard while in control of a fast-moving vehicle. Recently released data shows New York State police handed out 21,580 tickets for distracted driving in the summer of 2013, compared to 5,208 in the summer of 2012. New York originally banned texting while driving in 2009, increasing the penalties for distracted driving as of November 1, 2014. First-time offenders now must pay a fine of up to $200 if they are caught in the act. The penalty for breaking this law is 5 violation points on your license. In New York State, if you get 11 points in an 18 month period, your license will be suspended. This means that one ticket for driving while using a cell phone is effectively halfway to a license suspension.
Still Tempted to Text While Driving? There’s an App for That
Police officers are trained to identify people who are texting while behind the wheel. Once they cite someone, proving it is simple. Phone records and data use don’t lie. This is not a citation that one will easily be able to fight in court. For drivers that find the urge to text despite these penalties, apps are available for almost all smart phones to help reduce the temptation to text. Among the most noteworthy apps are “Textecution,” which prevents a cell phone from sending texts if the vehicle is moving faster than 10 miles per hour. Another app is “DriveSafe.ly” which reads incoming texts aloud and auto-responds to them without the driver having to touch the phone.
Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C.
When someone is injured due to the negligence of a distracted driver, they deserve to be compensated for the costs that follow. Medical bills, lost wages, and other associated costs can add up quickly, and someone should not be responsible for paying these when the accident was not their fault to begin with. If you have been involved in an accident involving a distracted driver, do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. for counsel and representation. With over 150 of combined experience, we have a firm understanding of the relevant law and how to obtain the money and benefits you deserve. Contact us today by calling 1-877-737-4806 or by filling out our online contact form. We will fight for you!