As our society becomes increasingly dependent on technology, the dangerous practice of talking on a cell phone and text messaging while driving is becoming more and more prevalent. This illegal activity often leads to serious and sometimes deadly consequences. While most people are under the impression that drunk driving or speeding are the leading causes of car accidents, cell phone use and texting while driving are equally responsible.
New York State has the nation’s toughest laws against driving, and in 2011, the state legislature passed a bill which has made the use of handheld electronic devices while driving a primary offense. Under New York State law you cannot use a hand-held mobile telephone or send a text or email while you drive. Increases in the cost of penalties have also risen within the past year due to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s push towards decreasing distraction on the roads. First time offenders will now pay a fine of $50 to $150. Second time offenders who text and drive within 18 months of another texting offense will pay a fine of $50 up to $200. Furthermore, subsequent offenders will pay a fine of $50 up to $400. In addition to monetary penalties, each offense imposes three to five violation points against the driver’s license.
Although the penalties may deter some negligent driving, the hard truth is that cell phone-related car accidents have been on the rise. From 2005 to 2011, the governor’s office estimated a 143% increase in cell phone-related car crashes in New York State. The most recent data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association for 2011 reveals 3,331 deaths as a result of car accidents involving a distracted driver. This total increased from 3,267 deaths reported the year before.
Texting while driving is the most dangerous of all cell phone related tasks. People who text while driving are 23.2 times more likely to get into an accident than drivers who give their full attention to the road.
Those injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver would be wise to consult with a skilled car accident attorney who can help protect their legal rights. The personal injury attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP, are dedicated to vigorously protecting the rights and interests of those who have been hurt by negligent drivers. Contact Hach & Rose, LLP, at (212) 779-0057 for a free consultation.