This year New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that makes texting while driving a primary offense. Texting while driving has been against the law for years in New York, but previously was a secondary offense, meaning law enforcement must have had an additional reason to pull over a driver before issuing a ticket for texting while driving.
Now, anyone texting while driving risks being pulled over and issued a $150 fine.
With this law, New York joins 32 other states that make texting while driving a primary offense. Three states ban texting while driving but make it a secondary offense; the remaining states have no law against texting while driving.
Growing Awareness of the Dangers of Texting While Driving
New York's law aims to prevent some of the more than 5,000 deaths that occur nationally every year because of distracted driving. The bill was helped into law by the efforts of Kelly Cline, a West Seneca parent who lost her son through distracted driving in 2007. According to the latest estimates by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 500,000 people are injured every year from distracted driving.
Texting is a particularly dangerous form of distracted driving, as it involves all three dangers of distracted driving:
- Visual impairment (taking eyes of the road): A study by the Texas Transportation Institute found drivers who sent or received text messages while driving had their reaction time delayed from one to two seconds to three or four seconds.
- Taking hands off the wheel: A Monash University study found that drivers using hand-held devices were 4 times more likely to get injured in a car accident.
- Mental distraction: a study by Carnegie Mellon found that drivers on cell phones had 37 percent less brain activity devoted to driving.
Fortunately, growing awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and laws aimed at curbing this dangerous practice are beginning to make a difference. Still, accidents do occur. If you have been injured as the result of a distracted driver, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss potential compensation for your injuries.