Penalties on Texting While Driving Increase, But Effectiveness is Unclear

Texting While Driving
In New York, the fines and enforcement of rules against texting-while-driving have become more severe – especially after the number of tickets for doing so increased by 35 percent between 2013 and 2014. In New York City, the increase in traffic tickets has increased by 50 percent over the past two years, while the rest of the state averaged 15 percent. Law enforcement has issued over 75,000 tickets for texting in 2014 – which is much higher than the 56,000 issued in 2013.

Texting-While-Driving Leads to Fatal Results

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 3,154 fatalities and 424,000 injuries nationwide in 2013 involving a distracted driver. NHTSA also estimates that 10 percent of all accident-related fatalities nationwide involve a distracted driver.

New York’s Response to Increases in Distracted Driving

New York has implemented some of the harshest penalties for texting-while-driving. Individuals that talk or text on their phones while driving can be penalized up to five points on their driver’s license and face a fine of up to $200 for the first offense – which was increased from the original $150 fine. Secondary offenses come with even harsher penalties, which include:

  • Fines up to $250 for the second offense
  • Fines up to $450 for the third and subsequent offenses within 18 months of the previous offense

Those on probationary licenses, Class DJ or Class MJ licenses as well as learner’s permits will also face a mandatory 120-day driver license or permit suspension and convictions within six months of license restoration can result in a one-year license revocation.

New York prohibits all drivers from using portable electronics. While some states have only prohibited texting-while-driving, New York bans all use. This includes talking on a phone;  composing, reading, sending, accessing messages on a mobile device; viewing or taking images; and playing games. Drivers are, however, permitted to use hands-free devices and GPS systems.

Harsher Penalties Are Not Necessarily Deterring Behaviors

Despite the changes in New York’s penalties and fines, it is not clear if these enhanced penalties are actually deterring distracted driving behaviors. Across the nation, the state laws and bans against driving and talking or texting vary; therefore, it is hard for NHTSA to accurately track how effective harsher penalties are – especially when some states have implemented zero bans.

All drivers in the state of New York should appreciate the dangers associated with talking and/or texting-while-driving. They should also take the penalties issued by the state seriously and ensure they refrain from engaging in this reckless form of driving behavior.

If You Were Injured by a Distracted Driver, Contact a New York Personal Injury Attorney

Harsher penalties will not deter all individuals from driving recklessly. If you or a loved one has been injured because of a distracted driver, contact Schwartzapfel® Lawyers P.C. for a free consultation. We will assess the circumstances of your case and aggressively protect your right to compensation under the law. Contact us online or call us at 1-877-737-4806 to schedule your appointment.

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