Distracted driving takes center stage in April
Be honest with yourself. Have you ever, at any point in time, taken your attention off the road to read or send a text while driving? What about just glancing at your phone for a second to check a notification or to see who's calling you? If so, you aren't the only one.
Despite the known dangers, our roads are rife with drivers who are distracted by everything from cellphones and passengers to food, drink, and personal grooming (e.g., combing hair, applying makeup, and yes, even shaving).
While there is no such thing as a "safe" distraction, texting and driving is by far the most deadly form of distracted driving because it combines visual, manual, and cognitive distraction. That is, in order to read or send a text, you must look at your phone (visual), pick up your phone (manual), and think about what you are reading/going to write (cognitive).
Considering you can travel the length of a professional football field in 5 seconds at 55 mph, it's no wonder that a texting driver is more likely to cause a severe car accident than someone who is driving under the influence of alcohol.
The numbers don’t lie: Distracted driving is deadly
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has marked April as "Distracted Driving Awareness Month," a time when local law enforcement agencies beef up their visibility to enforce texting laws and police officers remind drivers how dangerous distractions can be when you're behind the wheel of a car. These efforts, along with educational campaigns, are done to help reduce the number of serious injuries and fatalities that occur each year as a result of distracted driving crashes.
According to the NHTSA:
- In 2019, 3,142 people died in collisions caused by distracted drivers
- Distracted driving deaths increased by 10% from 2018-2019
- A distracted driver was involved in 9% of the fatal crashes that took place in 2019
- Over the last eight years, more than 26,000 people have died in crashes involving distracted drivers
- Younger drivers, ages 16-24, are slightly more at risk of distracted driving when compared to their older counterparts
Regrettably, distracted driving accidents are among the most preventable types of crashes in the US. Remember, texting while driving is a choice. And when you choose to text or let other distractions steal your attention away from your driving, you're putting yourself and everyone else on the road at risk.
New York's Distracted Driving Law
There are special "Texting Zone" locations on certain state highways where you can pull your vehicle off the road to safely read or send a text, but make no mistake: it is against the law in New York to use a handheld mobile phone or portable electronic device while you're driving.
The law specifically bans drivers from:
- Talking on a handheld mobile device
- Reading, writing, sending, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving, or retrieving any kind of electronic data (this applies to emails, texts, and websites)
- Using a mobile device to play games
- Looking at, taking, or sending pictures
Using a handheld mobile phone or portable electronic device to read or send a text may result in harsh fines and penalties, including driver violation points, with the exception being emergency situations where the driver needs to use a mobile device to call 911.
How to avoid texting while driving
Even though it's against the law, there are still plenty of drivers in New York and across the country who think they can get away with texting and driving because they've yet to get into a crash or suffer any other type of consequences.
The reality is getting too complacent is dangerous, and you are just as likely to be involved in a collision as anyone else who makes the choice to text and drive.
By following these safety tips, you can help prevent yourself from becoming a distracted driving statistic:
- Pull your vehicle over to a safe location, such as a gas station or parking lot, if you can't wait to read or send a text message. When you look at your phone you are driving blind, so even if it's just for a moment, those few seconds could be enough time for you to miss a pedestrian crossing the street or not notice the car in front of you coming to a stop.
- Give another person in the car access to your phone and let them answer your calls, respond to messages, and alert you of any notifications. Having a "designated texter" is much more prudent than glancing at your phone every few seconds when you should be paying attention to the road ahead.
- Store your phone in the trunk, glove box, back seat, or anywhere else in your vehicle that's not easily accessible. Cellphone use can be addicting, and if it's within reach, you may be tempted to use your phone to check that social media notification or look at an unread text. By putting your phone out of sight and out of mind, you can reduce the temptation of using it while you're driving.
- Speak up when you're a passenger. If you're in someone else's vehicle and you notice them looking at their phone, texting, or otherwise not driving responsibly, tell them to stop it right away and ask them to focus on the road.
Giampa Law holds distracted drivers responsible
At Giampa Law, our car accident lawyers have successfully handled a wide range of cases for injury victims located throughout New York City and the Empire State, including claims involving distracted drivers. Founded by renowned trial attorney Richard L. Giampa, our law firm is client-focused and dedicated to getting you the best possible outcome in your case. Whether it's through a negotiated settlement or a court judgment, our attorneys will fight for the compensation you need and deserve.
Contact us today for a free consultation. Our office is located in the Bronx, on the Grand Concourse across the street from the Supreme Court of Bronx County and right near Yankee Stadium.