February 1, 2023
What to Know About Distracted Driving in New York
By Jonathan Damashek
Many people agree that distracted driving is dangerous. However, driving while distracted remains one of the largest causes for car crashes across the U.S.
Unfortunately, even a quick call or one text message can cause a catastrophe. In the five seconds it takes you to read a text, you can drive the length of an entire football field.
Learn more about distracted driving and how you can stay safe on the roads.
Distracted Driving Risks
Distracted driving is the number one contributing factor for all motor vehicle crashes in New York.
Nationwide, the statistics remain concerning. In 2020, over 3,140 people were killed in a crash caused by distracted driving. Nearly 325,000 people were injured in an accident involving a distracted driver.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drivers who take their eyes off the road for as little as two seconds double their risk of being involved in a vehicle crash. Engaging in a “secondary task” such as talking or texting on a cell phone triples that risk.
The extreme danger of texting while driving is that it combines all three of the following types of distracted driving:
- Visual – the driver’s eyes are not on the road
- Manual – the driver’s hands are not on the wheel
- Cognitive – the driver’s mind is not on driving
Examples of Distracted Driving
When people think of distracted driving, they often picture someone texting behind the wheel. While texting is a common type of distracted driving, it’s one of many examples. Other types of distracted driving include:
- Making phone calls
- Eating food or drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Grooming, i.e. putting on chapstick
- Grabbing or reaching for objects
- Adjusting the radio or other controls
- Letting your mind wander
Anything that takes your attention off the road can be dangerous and put you at a higher risk for crashing.
Distracted Driving in Teens
When teens begin to drive, parents often worry about keeping their kids out of car accidents. Yet parents are the number-one group of callers teens talk to while they drive, according to a study presented to the American Psychological Association.
Studies show that young drivers are “over-confident” in their ability to multitask by using their cell phones while driving. In fact, this young group is just as likely to suffer a distracted driving crash while talking or texting as older drivers are. Seven percent of fatal car accidents among teenagers were caused by distraction in 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Penalties for Distracted Drivers
Texting while driving is illegal in New York. New York law sets forth the following fines for being convicted of distracted driving:
- First offense: $50 to $200
- Second offense in 18 months: $250 maximum fine
- Third offense in 18 months: $450 maximum fine
In addition, New York drivers with a probationary or junior permit or driver’s license can have their permit/license suspended for 120 days for a first distracted driving conviction. The suspension period increases to one year should they be convicted a second time within six months.
Expunging a Distracted Driving Conviction
Distracted driving offenders in Nassau County, just east of New York City, have a new option available to get their conviction expunged. They can install a monitoring device called DriveID in their vehicle that tracks their cell phone usage while the vehicle is in motion and sends a detailed report to the court. If the offender maintains a clean driving record for 90 days, the conviction is expunged and the five points assessed against the offender’s driver’s license are removed.
Hurt by a Distracted Driver? Call HKD.
When you’re involved in a crash because the other driver was distracted, it’s important to find a lawyer who knows how to successfully handle your case. The law firm of Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. not only has the knowledge, but the experience to handle your distracted driving car accident claim or lawsuit.