how to prevent distracted driving accidentsWhen a person is driving on the road, we trust that they will drive safely, with concern for the safety of others around them. Sadly, this isn’t always true and there are an increasing number of distracted driving accidents in New York City being caused by drivers who use of cell phones to talk or text or scroll through their social media feeds while driving.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that distracted driving is responsible for the death of 9 people every single day in the United States. Further, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2018 alone distracted driving accidents caused the death of 2,841 persons. These staggering figures indicate that the problem of distracted driving is a grave one and it is important for measures to be put in place to prevent accidents due to this menace.

What is Distracted Driving?

According to the NHTSA, any activity that causes the driver’s attention to drift away from the act of driving can be called distracted driving. Examples of acts that cause distraction of driver’s attention from the road include the following:

  • Talking on your phone
  • Talking to passengers in the car
  • Texting on your phone
  • Surfing the web on your phone
  • Fiddling with the car’s entertainment system or stereo
  • Eating or drinking in the car

Distracted driving may also sometimes be caused if the driver is driving when drowsy due to fatigue or lack of sufficient rest. Whatever the distraction, a split second’s inattention may often result in a car accident that causes suffering and pain for all those who are injured.

New York Laws Against Distracted Driving 

The distracted driving law in New York requires that drivers:

  • Do not use handheld electronic devices for the purpose of playing games or texting.
  • Do not have television screens in their view.
  • Use hands-free technology to talk on cell phones while driving.
  • Do not take or look at or transmit images using their electronic devices while driving.

However, there are certain exceptions to the distracted driving laws in NYC and these include the following:

  • Mobile phones, GPS devices and MP3 players may be used only in hands-free mode.
  • Electronic devices such as dashboard computers that are in-built in the vehicle may be used
  • Drivers who need to use a portable electronic device for communication while operating an emergency vehicle under authorization are permitted to do so for their official duties.
  • Anyone who needs to contact a hospital, a physician or 911 in case of a personal emergency is permitted to use a handheld mobile phone while driving.

Distracted Driving is More Common in Teenage Drivers

In 2017, 9% of deaths in teenage car accidents were linked to distracted driving. A nationwide survey has thrown up alarming results with 32.8% of high school students admitting to emailing or texting while driving. Of all possible distractions, texting is the most dangerous because it takes your eyes completely off the road and just a few seconds of inattention can cause a fatal crash.

Driving is a complex task that requires all your senses to be fully engaged on what’s happening on the road and any non-driving activity with the potential to take your attention away from that increases the risk of a crash.

Tips to Prevent Distracted Driving Accidents in New York

Distracted driving accidents can be deadly but fortunately, it is easy to avoid them with proper training. Here are a few simple tips that you can follow to drive safely.

Do not attempt to multi-task when driving

The time you spend in driving may seem like a good time to catch up with friends over a call, or through texting. But such multi-tasking is dangerous because it takes your attention off the road. So, push off such activities for when you are outside the car and when you drive, keep your entire focus on the road and other vehicles around you.

Reserve cell phone use for emergencies only

Never use your cell phone when driving except in an emergency where you need to contact a hospital, a doctor or 911. Keep your phone out of sight so that you are not tempted to use it. If you hear it ring and you are expecting a crucial call, make sure you pull over to a safe spot on the shoulder where you are not in the way of other vehicles and only then use your phone. Although hands-free devices are permitted, if your attention is on the phone conversation, you could end up missing vital audio and visual cues from the road that can cause a serious accident.

Limit the activity level within your car

Young drivers who are novices to driving need to be even more cautious about distractions in their car. Driving with fewer passengers means fewer distractions especially for teens. If you have friends eating or drinking or playing pranks on each other in the car, it creates an environment in which your attention is even more likely to be distracted from the road.

Do not eat or drink when driving

Eating in the car may sound like a way to save time when you are in a hurry. However, the act of eating requires you to move your hands away from the wheel and this, along with even a momentary shift in attention away from the road can prove to have devastating consequences. It is also likely that you may spill food or water while eating and this again can distract your attention from the road.

Do not drive when you are drowsy

Lack of sleep and fatigue can cause you to feel drowsy while driving. If you begin to nod off when at the wheel, get off the road and take a short rest. Trying to reach your destination faster to beat sleep doesn’t generally work and data shows that the risk of a collision is four times higher when the driver is drowsy.

Follow the S-M-A-R-T Method of Safe Driving in NY

The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan has come up with tips that teens can follow for safe driving. The acronym S-M-A-R-T stands for:

Stay focused on driving

Make preparations before you begin

Avoid all other activities

Rely on passengers

Text or talk later

To stay focused on driving, always keep both your hands on the steering wheel and make sure your eyes stay only on the road. Periodically scan your surroundings and pay attention to your blind spots.

When you plan to drive, make sure you are well prepared before you start. Set your car’s controls, stereo and navigation tools, fasten your seat belt, adjust your clothing, secure loose items and sit in a comfortable position.

Avoid changing any of the car’s controls or searching for radio stations or music when driving. Do not consume any food or drink while driving. If you need to adjust your GPS or read a map, stop the vehicle before you do it. Avoid using your phone when driving.

Take help from the passengers in the car to send a text or make a phone call or navigate using the GPS. If you need to look for something in the car or want the controls or radio adjusted, ask the passengers to do it so that your attention is fixed on the road.

Leave your phone alone while driving. Never talk or text anyone when you are behind the wheel. Ask your family and friends not to call or text you when you are driving and make sure you follow the same rule about contacting other drivers. These simple tips can prevent deadly distracted driving accidents in New York.

Consequences of Violating New York Laws of Distracted Driving

Under New York law, using portable electronic devices while driving is prohibited. This being a primary law, you can be stopped by a law enforcement officer if you are observed to be using such a device. The penalties for a citation for distracted driving include a fine and suspension of the license or even its revocation. Every time you violate the distracted driving law, you will have five points added to your driving record. Often, this can also cause your car insurance premiums to rise because you are now viewed as a driver who cannot be trusted to drive safely.

Consult with a Competent Distracted Driving Lawyer in NY

If you have been injured in a car accident caused due to the negligence of a distracted driver, you have a right to claim damages for the losses you suffered due to the accident. It’s vital to hold the responsible party accountable for their offense and having a qualified and experienced personal injury attorney by your side can be critical to receiving the compensation you deserve.

Our lawyers at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP have several decades of experience in successfully winning damages for victims of distracted driving accidents in NYC. Remember that there may be a time limit applicable to your claim, so act quickly and call us at 212-344-1000 to book your free consultation today.


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