April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2019, more than 3,000 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers. That’s about eight distracted driving-related deaths a day. Additionally, over 424,000 people were injured in accidents caused by distracted drivers.
While people are encouraged to drive safely every month of the year, during April there is greater communication about the dangers of distracted driving. Local law enforcement agencies also participate in programs like the NHTSA’s U Drive. U Text. U Pay. campaign to remind motorists of legal consequences for texting while driving and to reduce fatal and injury-causing accidents. There will likely be an increased police presence throughout April.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving involves engaging in activities that take your attention away from operating your vehicle. When you’re not fully attending to driving tasks, you can increase the chances of getting in an accident that can seriously harm or kill someone.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the three main types of distractions include:
- Visual: These are distractions causing you to take your eyes off the road. For example, reading a text message. When driving 55 mph, looking away from the road for just a few seconds is like driving the length of a football field while blindfolded, according to the NHTSA.
- Manual: These distractions cause you to take your hands off the steering wheel. Plugging your next destination’s address into your navigation system would be a form of manual distraction.
- Cognitive: These distractions cause you to take your mind off driving. Using your car’s talk-to-text feature or even conversing with passengers can pull your focus from operating your vehicle.
New York’s Texting While Driving Law
Texting is a widespread form of distracted driving. According to the NHTSA, around 660,000 motorists used some type of electronic device while behind the wheel. The agency also reports that this behavior is more frequent among drivers between 15 to 19 years of age. Motorists in this age group caused about 8% of distracted driving-related accidents.
To combat the dangers of texting while driving, many states have enacted laws prohibiting certain behaviors involving cell phone use when operating a vehicle.
In New York, it is illegal not just to text while driving, but also to use any mobile device for the following:
- Reading or sending texts, emails, or other written communication
- Taking, sending, or looking at pictures
- Playing games
Any person found to have violated the law will be issued a traffic ticket. The citation carries a fine between $50 and $200 and can result in five points being assessed to the driver’s license.
Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving
Distracted driving can be problematic for you (for example, if you are cited for texting while driving) and dangerous for others on the road (for instance, if you cause a crash). But it can be avoided.
Below are some things you can do to minimize distractions while driving:
- Program before you go. Input your destination’s address before taking off.
- Don’t use in-vehicle technology. Some features in your car may help keep your hands off your phone, but they can still cause cognitive distractions.
- Park before texting. If you get a text or a call that you have to respond to, pull over and stop your vehicle.
- Assign a designated texter. Ask one of your passengers to read or reply to text messages or make or answer calls.
- Be an alert passenger. If you’re the passenger of a vehicle where the driver gets distracted, remind the individual to keep their focus on driving tasks.
Call Our Firm for Help
At Martin A. Kron & Associates, P.C., we encourage safe driving and ask that motorists avoid distractions. We recognize that law enforcement officials might issue a traffic ticket to someone they believe was doing something, such as texting while driving. Our team is here to help fight your citation.
To schedule a free consultation with our New York lawyer, call us at (212) 235-1525 or submit an online contact form today.