Distracted driving is nothing new to New Yorkers or other drivers across the country. Our relentless need to multi-task in our 21st-century lives is prevalent – and it certainly doesn’t stop when we get behind the wheel.
Eating on the go, tuning the radio or messing with temperature controls in our vehicles is enough to trigger a delay when the light turns green at a traffic signal.
But today, the problem with distracted driving extends far beyond eating breakfast on our way to work: smartphones are now in play. And many are the culprit of auto accidents that occur across the U.S. every single day.
So, to combat the increase in accidents caused by cellphones, state lawmakers, including those in New York, jumped on board and enacted laws limiting or prohibiting their use in various ways. After all, a hefty citation is enough to stop any driver from picking up their cellphone when they get behind the wheel, right? Not exactly.
New York’s ban on cellphone use while driving
Cellphone laws in New York are a bit more stringent than many other states. Lawmakers have banned any type of hand-held mobile device while driving as a primary offense (except in emergency situations). An officer in NY who sees a driver talking, composing, reading, browsing, texting, emailing, playing games – or doing anything on an electronic device while driving – can issue a citation. This includes a steep $200 fine and points. Novice drivers face further scrutiny, including suspension of their license or permit.
Yet, according to a recent survey by The Zebra, a website that provides comparisons, quotes and information about insurance policies, these penalties do not seem to deter drivers all that much.
According to The Zebra, “60% of respondents said they were likely to use a GPS app while driving.” The survey also showed that young adult drivers felt “well informed about the law” yet were “aware of their abilities to handle multiple tasks while distracted.”
As such, such an attitude toward cellphone use behind the wheel likely contributes to the following:
- 6 million motor vehicle accidents per year
- 14% of fatal crashes
- More than 4,500 deaths
- Nearly $130 billion of related societal expenses
A steep traffic ticket is a pretty big deal, but endangering the lives of others on the road while you check an Instagram status update is incomparable. That temporary distraction – one you are likely to forget the next day – could cost you a lifetime of regret if you injure or kill someone around you.
Under the law, those injured on the road because of the negligent behavior of other drivers can rightfully hold those at fault accountable.