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Operation Hang Up: New York State Police Target Distracted Drivers

Man looking at GPS on his smartphone while driving in the city.

Driving distracted in New York? Be prepared for a potential encounter with the New York State Police, who are intensifying their efforts to combat distracted driving, a leading cause of car accidents in the state.

According to a recent NBC New York report highlighting the statewide campaign to curb distracted driving, law enforcement officials are urging motorists to heed the message: It's time to put down the phone while behind the wheel.

If you've been involved in a car accident caused by distracted driving, it's also essential to understand your legal rights. Our experienced car accident lawyers at Giampa Law are here to help you navigate the legal process and pursue the compensation you deserve.

Distracted driving: by the numbers

According to a recent announcement by the New York State Police, distracted driving, also known as "driver inattention," ranks among the leading causes of crashes in New York State.

In response to this trend, New York State Police troopers are intensifying their efforts this month to crack down on distracted drivers. Police are particularly focused on individuals who text or use their cell phones while driving.

This enforcement effort is part of the state's "Operation Hang Up" program for April, which coincides with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

How common are distracted driving accidents in New York City?

Distracted driving is the number one cause of car accidents in New York City. In 2022, drivers who were not paying attention caused 28,753 car accidents in New York City, according to accident data compiled by the NYPD. The second-most common cause of collisions in New York City in 2022 didn't even come close – failure to yield, which resulted in 7,823 car accidents.

What is New York doing to prevent distracted driving?

The New York State Police's "Operation Hang Up" is taking a hard line this month against distracted driving. Last year, state troopers issued more than 70,000 traffic violation tickets to drivers statewide, including 2,600 tickets for distracted driving, according to NBC New York.

What are New York's distracted driving laws?

In New York State, strict laws prohibit handheld mobile phones and portable electronic devices while driving. According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, illegal activities include:

  • Talking on a handheld mobile phone.
  • Composing, sending, reading, or accessing electronic data such as emails, text messages, or webpages.
  • Viewing, taking, or transmitting images.
  • Playing games.

Using any portable electronic device while driving (other than calling 911 or contacting emergency services) is subject to legal penalties, including traffic tickets, fines, and driver point penalties.

Specifically, New York State law mandates:

Fines for Violations (as of November 1, 2014)

  • First offense: $50 to $200
  • Second offense within 18 months: $50 to $250
  • Third or subsequent offense within 18 months: $50 to $450
  • A surcharge of up to $93 may also apply to each violation.

Driver Violation Points

  • As of June 1, 2013, these violations carry five driver violation points.

For probationary and junior drivers (Class DJ or MJ licenses), the stakes are even higher:

  • A first conviction for cell phone use or texting results in a suspension of the driver's license or permit for 120 days.
  • A second conviction within six months of the restoration leads to a revocation of at least one year.

Commercial Drivers and Motor Carriers:

  • Effective October 28, 2013, motor carriers are prohibited from allowing or requiring their drivers to use cell phones or texting devices while driving.
  • Commercial drivers cannot use handheld phones or text while driving, even when temporarily stationary due to traffic or other delays.

Seeking legal help after a crash involving a distracted driver

Claims involving distracted drivers in New York can be complex because proving driver distraction requires thorough investigation and evidence collection. Unlike other types of negligence, distraction is often not easily observable or provable.

Additionally, distracted driving can involve various forms of distraction, such as cell phone use, eating, or adjusting controls, making it challenging to pinpoint the exact cause of the accident. As such, having an experienced car accident lawyer who understands New York's laws and can navigate the challenges of these cases is crucial for obtaining fair compensation for your injuries and losses.

Our car accident lawyers at Giampa Law can help you every step of the way. Our dedicated legal team knows how to handle complex cases and get meaningful results for our clients. To see how we can help with your potential legal case, contact us today and schedule a free consultation.

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