As technology becomes more of a constant presence in our daily lives, the temptation to check our social media or respond to our friends becomes more difficult to avoid. Although the technological advancements in the way we communicate with each other have simplified most aspects of our lives, they have also added new complications that we all need to learn to navigate. In many cases, there is pressure to respond quickly. This pressure can be felt most strongly while driving but being behind the wheel comes with the responsibility of paying attention. Texting or checking social media or texts while driving is extremely dangerous and can result in car accidents that can be fatal.
Texting While Driving and the Law
The state of New York enacted their first law against texting and driving in 2009, outlining texting and driving as a secondary offense. This meant that you could only receive penalties for texting while driving if you were already being pulled over for something else. However, in 2011, the law was revised and texting while driving became an offense on its own, and police can pull someone over solely for engaging in such distracting behavior. The penalties for texting while driving in New York are as follows:
- Fines: Most people caught texting and driving will be issued a fine when convicted. In New York state, the minimum fine for a first offense is $50, whereas the maximum is $200.
- The minimum fine for a second texting and driving offense within 18 months of the first is a minimum fine of $50 and a maximum fine of $250.
- For a third offense within 18 months, the minimum remains at $50, however, the maximum fine can reach $450.
- License Points: New York state uses a point system which can be applied to the license IDs of high-risk drivers or drivers with many offenses. If you reach 11 points on your license within 18 months, your license will be suspended. All convictions for texting and driving, not only the first, will result in 5 points on your license.
The penalties for texting and driving in New York state are different for drivers that are still in their probationary period or only have their learner’s permit. If convicted, these drivers will have their license or permit suspended for 120 days.
The Statistics of Texting While Driving
Unfortunately, texting while driving is still an extremely common occurrence, even with the potential consequences to your safety and finances. The National Safety Council has stated that the use of cell phones while driving typically leads to 1.6 million car accidents per year, 390,000 of which result in injuries. This means that nearly a quarter of all car accidents on American soil are due to the distraction caused by cell phones. Using a cell phone while driving is 6 times as likely to cause a car accident than driving while intoxicated.
It’s understandable why New York state imposes additional penalties on teen drivers for texting and driving, because about 35% of them have admitted to doing it even though they are aware of the risk involved. In fact, teen drivers are 4 times as likely to get into a cell phone related car accident than adult drivers are.
Ways to Prevent Cell Phone Distractions in the Car
Most people would be willing to admit that it can be difficult to avoid using your phone, even during times when you know you shouldn’t be using it. However, there are some strategies that you can use to make sure you won’t be tempted or able to use your phone while you’re behind the wheel.
- Turn your phone to “silent” mode, so you will not be aware of incoming notifications
- Turn your cell phone off completely if silent mode does not work
- Place your phone somewhere out of your reach, such as the glove compartment or back seat
- Set a voice mail greeting and automatic text reply that lets people know you are driving and will get back to them as soon as it is safe to do so
For many people, the temptation to respond to texts or calls while driving comes from the fear of disappointing friends or loved ones by being late to respond, or the fear of missing out on something. If you set boundaries with your friends and loved ones, this could help to relieve some of the understandable pressure. You cannot be of value to your friends and family if you do not make it to your destination.
For teenagers, there are more specific ways that parents can ensure they are not able to engage in distracting cell phone use while driving.
- Educate your child: Sitting down with your child to discuss the laws surrounding cell phone use and the potential consequences can be very valuable in helping them to understand the seriousness of the issue.
- Do not text or call them when you know they are driving: Over half of the teenagers who have admitted to using their phones while driving said their parents are the ones they are hurrying to respond to. Do your best to avoid adding to the issue, and request that your child lets you know once they have arrived at their destination.
- Post your set of rules in the car: If your teenage child is faced with the reality of the rules you have given them about distracted driving every time they get in the car, they are much more likely to follow them.
- Use an app: Thankfully, many companies have released apps for smartphones that can disable the phone from receiving or sending texts and calls when the phone detects that it is in a moving vehicle. For example, LifeSaver disables your teen’s phone while the vehicle is in motion and will send you a notification when they arrive to their destination. On the other hand, Safe Drive provides your child with points for every safe trip they make that can be used as discounts to popular stores. If they unlock their phone while driving, they will lose the points. Providing an incentive may help prevent cell phone use while driving.
- Be a good example: Many children learn best when their parents act as a good example. If your child never sees you texting and driving, they are more likely to take your rules seriously.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you have been charged with texting and driving and need legal advice or representation, contact Martin A. Kron & Associates, P.C. today. We have over 30 years of experience working on distracted driving cases and treat all our clients with respect and empathy. We understand that everyone makes mistakes and will work vigorously towards a favorable outcome for your case. You can reach us at (212) 235-1525 or via our contact page.