Distracted driving was responsible for causing over 3,000 deaths and over
400,000 injuries nationwide in the year 2011.
 One of the most common and dangerous types of distracted driving is texting
while driving. Anytime a driver takes their eyes or mind off the road,
they are not fully focused on driving and are putting themselves and others
at risk of injury or death.
While drivers of all ages engage in
texting and driving, drivers under the age of 20 are the most at risk for being involved in
a car crash as a result of distraction and comprise 16% of all distracted
driving crashes. As a matter of fact, “approximately 11% of drivers
aged 18 to 20 who were involved in an automobile accident and survived
admitted they were sending or receiving texts when they crashed.”
The numbers are even more staggering for younger drivers, 21% of fatal
car crashes for drivers between the ages of 15-19 were caused by the use
of cell phones.
Studies have shown that it takes about 4.6 seconds to send or receive a
text message, which means a driver travelling at 55 mph while texting
will cover 100 yards of roadway without looking. Many people consider
texting and driving to be safer than talking on a cell phone while driving,
but it is quite the opposite. While talking on the phone involves only
cognitive distraction, texting involves manual, visual and cognitive distraction.
In addition to being dangerous, texting and driving is illegal in New York
State. Texting and driving is a violation of VTL 1225-c and can lead to
a monetary fine of $150. VTL 1225-c(2)(b) states in in pertinent part;
“An operator of a motor vehicle who holds a mobile telephone to,
or in the immediate proximity of his or her ear while such vehicle is
in motion is presumed to be engaging in a call within the meaning of this
section. The presumption established by this subdivision is rebuttable
by evidence tending to show that the operator was not engaged in a call.”
With technology rapidly evolving, electronic devices other than cell phones
have emerged that can be just as distracting if not more distracting than
mobile phones. In response, the legislature enacted VTL 1225-d in addition
to 1225-c, which is aimed to prevent those drivers who are driving while
using portable electronic devices other than mobile phones, such as PDA’s,
laptops, pagers, gaming devices, etc.
From July, 2011 to February 2012, 118,000 drivers were ticketed for driving
while using a mobile phone device in violation of VTL 1225-c and VTL 1225-d.
Beyond the hassle and monetary fines for texting and driving, it can also
cause your insurance rates to increase.
This year the fines for texting and driving will increase from $150 to
as much as $400 for repeat offenders. The hope is to further deter drivers
from driving while using portable electronic devices.
The best advice is to “keep your eyes on the road and your hands
on the wheel.”