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Dangers of Distracted Driving in NYC

Distracted driving has become a public safety issue due to the increased incidence of crashes associated with the use of cell phones and other electronic devices. In New York, driver inattention and distraction is consistently the most frequently reported driver-related contributing factor in fatal and personal injury crashes, contributing to 21% to 22% of crashes over the five-year period from 2011-2015. If you or a loved one was injured in a crash with a distracted driving, call the New York City car accident injury lawyers at Sullivan and Galleshaw today to schedule a free consultation on your potential case.

Distracted Driving Laws in New York

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2015, automobile fatalities attributable to distracted driving increased faster than those for drunk driving, speeding, and failing to wear seat belts. Moreover, according to the National Safety Council, approximately 10 people are killed, and 1,000 people are injured every single day in the United States because of distracted driving. While these numbers appear to be staggering, experts and government studies show that the level of danger posed by distracted driving is actually underreported and underrepresented.

The New York legislature has acted proactively to address this danger by enacting a comprehensive set of laws to keep drivers focused on the road. In addition, New York has also been investing in resources, technology, and programs to enforce these laws. In 2016, the “Hang Up Program” engaged patrols in targeting cars for these violations. More legislation is currently underway with the proposed Evan’s Law (S.2306/A.3955), which would allow for the screening of mobile devices, using a device commonly referred to as a “textalyzer.” This device will help authorities determine if the driver was texting right before the car accident.

Many of the current New York laws help keep drivers safe on the road:

Hands-Free Device Laws

Drivers on the New York City streets must keep their hands on the wheel. Motorists can still take advantage of wireless communications only by using hands-free devices. New York law bans a wide range of activities that require the use of hand-held devices, including the following:

  • Texting or talking on handheld cell phones
  • Composing, sending, reading, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving, or retrieving electronic data such as e-mail, text messages, or web pages
  • Viewing, taking, or transmitting images
  • Playing games

“Texting Zone” Laws on NY Highways

In 2013, New York began designating “texting zones” along thruways and state highways, where drivers can pull over and use their electronic devices. State-run park zones and rest stops are also available for drivers to pull off the road and send a text. State officials encourage drivers to be informed about these zones, and we should expect to see more public awareness of these locations.

Exceptions to Texting While Driving Laws

In New York, it’s okay to use your cell phone or another device if you follow the following rules:

  • Using a hands-free phone
  • Using a hand-held phone attached to a vehicle surface
  • Using a GPS device attached to the car or surface
  • Calling 911 or contacting medical, fire or police personnel about an emergency

What are the Penalties for Distracted Driving in New York?

The New York legislature recently updated and increased the penalties for distracted driving. Before 2014, each traffic ticket yielded 3 “points,” and the maximum fine was $400. Now, these offenses have upgraded penalties as follows:

  • First offense: a fine of $50-200
  • Second offense (within 18 months): A fine of $50-250
  • Third offense (within 18 months): A fine of $50-450

While a $50 traffic ticket may seem a small nuisance, the surcharges can be up to $93, and 5 points per offense are added to the driver’s record. As the points add up, violators can end up with a suspended license. Also, drivers with a probationary license or learner’s permit will be subject to a conviction that can result in an automatic 120-day driver license suspension.

These laws can also help victims of distracted driving car accidents prove the other driver was at fault. If you were injured by a driver who broke the law and caused an accident, that law can help you prove they did something objectively wrong to prove their fault in causing the crash.

Dangers of Distracted Driving Statistics and Facts

Statistics show that distracted drivers are becoming a more menacing danger to the safety of public roadways. A study conducted by the University at Albany’s Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR) in 2015 showed that 160 people were killed and more than 33,000 people were injured in crashes in New York that had “driver inattention/distraction” reported as a contributing factor. These numbers indicate that awareness and enforcement are becoming more and more important to all New York residents and anyone driving in New York roads.

In 2017, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo established a statewide “Operation Hang Up” to address distracted driving specifically. Patrols were actively targeting drivers on electronic devices. Preliminary data showed a 918% increase in tickets for texting while driving in New York State from 2011 to 2016. While tickets for calls on cell phones continue to decline, the use of smartphones for texting has caused the number of tickets to rise every year since 2011.

Call Our Lawyers for Help Filing a Claim for Distracted Driving Accident Injuries in New York

If you or a loved one was injured in a crash caused by distracted driving, call the New York City personal injury lawyers at Sullivan and Galleshaw today. Our attorneys represent the victims of distracted driving car accidents and texting while driving accidents and fight to get them compensation for their injuries. To schedule a free legal consultation, contact our law offices today at (718) 843-0300.


Over our many years practicing personal injury law, our highly experienced legal team has earned a reputation for excellence. Our attorneys have appeared on major media outlets such as Fox News and MSNBC . Our firm’s legal accomplishments have been profiled by the New York Law Journal, the Los Angeles Times, ESPN, and the Associated Press. We have won multiple verdicts in excess of $1 million, making us proud members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a prestigious organization which admits fewer than 1% of all attorneys in the United States. We were named Super Lawyers in 2011, and enjoy a perfect 10/10 Superb rating on national attorney database Avvo.

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