While everyone knows that texting and driving do not mix, getting people to stop texting while driving is proving to be a challenge in many states – including New York. According to the New York Department Motor Vehicles, police issued over 55,000 texting while driving tickets in 2013 – an increase of nearly 82% from the previous year. These somewhat staggering statistics have prompted Governor Andrew Cuomo to support the passage of tougher distracted driving laws.
Tougher Laws Target New & Younger Drivers
Although people of all ages continue to engage in distracted driving, statistics show that younger drivers tend to be the worst culprits and New York’s tougher distracted driving laws specifically target them.
Starting Nov. 1, 2014, drivers in New York who are under the age of 18 or have a probationary license will have their license suspended for 120 days for a first conviction of texting while driving. Young and new drivers who receive a second conviction of texting while driving will have a one-year license suspension.
Many lawmakers agree that tougher penalties are a step in the right direction. One of those is Senator Joseph Robach, R-Greece of Monroe County. Robach, who heads New York’s Senate Transportation Committee, told WGRZ NBC News 2 that the tougher texting penalties are a positive step toward a cultural change that can increase the safety of all New Yorkers. He said:
For a while, it had become commonplace for people to erroneously think texting was OK, but not talking on the phone. But the reality is, taking your eyes off the road for any reason and for any length of time is not only dangerous, but can be deadly and we’ve seen that time and time again.
Distracted driving accident statistics seem to prove Robach’s point. According to the National Safety Council (NSC):
- Drivers who use handheld devices when operating their vehicles are four times as likely to crash as drivers who aren’t distracted
- Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers who focus on the road
- People who text while driving – particularly those sending messages – look away from the road 400 times more often than someone not texting
The NSC estimates that there have been approximately 300,000 crashes involving drivers using cell phones and texting this year alone. Sadly, the number of reported crashes continues to climb – a sign of how serious the issue has become.
Distracted Driving Can Result In Serious, Costly Injuries & Death
While many New Yorkers are hopeful that the tougher distracted driving laws will encourage drivers to avoid using their cell phones when driving, it’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Taking your eyes off the road, even for a second, can result in serious, costly injuries and death.
Some of the most common car accident injuries include traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), spinal cord injuries, and broken bones. These injuries can be costly. According to the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), the average cost of a distracted driving accident is over $37,000. If the injury results in partial or permanent disability, that cost can skyrocket.
Keep in mind that even if the at-fault driver was not charged with breaking a traffic law, evidence of distracted driving may still be used to show that the driver was negligent.