According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), distracted driving accidents claim more than 3,000 lives and injure close to 400,000 more every year in the U.S. The problem is so widespread, it’s been called a public health epidemic. Fortunately, unlike other types of motor vehicle crashes, distracted driving accidents are entirely preventable.
On this page, we’ll explore common causes of driving inattention, penalties for distracted driving in New York, and why it’s important to work with a Brooklyn car accident lawyer if you are injured by a careless driver.
What Is Distracted Driving?
The term distracted driving refers to any activity that diverts the driver’s attention away from the task of driving. And while cell phone use is commonly associated with distracted driving, many other activities also interfere with safe driving.
There are three types of distractions:
Manual distractions take your hands off the steering wheel and controls. Eating a meal, doing your hair or makeup, or picking up something that has fallen on the floor of your car are all manual distractions.
A visual distraction is anything that takes your eyes off the road—like turning to talk to a backseat passenger, or looking for cash for the drive-through restaurant while the car is in motion.
Driving requires focus and concentration. If you are daydreaming, stressed, fatigued, or impaired by alcohol or drugs, your decision-making and reaction time will be negatively affected.
Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it involves all three types of distractions. It takes your hands, eyes, and mind off the road. Consider that sending or reading a text in a vehicle moving at 55 miles per hour is like driving the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed. That text can wait.
New York Distracted Driving Statistics and Enforcement
According to recent data on motor vehicle collisions in New York City, driver inattention/distraction was the top contributing factor in injuries and fatal accidents. More than 2,000 vehicles were involved in distracted driving crashes across all precincts in the city in a single month.
In 2017, then Governor Cuomo created Operation Hang Up, a statewide initiative designed to increase enforcement of distracted driving laws with patrols and checkpoints. Today, law enforcement agencies across New York State participate in the federal program U Text. U Drive. U Pay. which aims to raise awareness of the risks of distracted driving.
New York Distracted Driving Laws and Penalties
In 2001, New York became the first state in the nation to ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Additional legislation passed in 2009 also prohibits texting while driving along with the use of other portable electronic devices, as outlined in NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law.
Penalties for a first offense include fines ranging from $50-$200 and points on your driver’s license. Fines and points increase with each subsequent offense.
Commercial truck drivers and junior and probationary drivers may face more severe penalties for a first distracted driving offense.
Distracted Driving Accidents and Injuries
When a vehicle is traveling at a high speed, and the driver is not paying attention, the risk of serious injury is significant.
Distracted driving crash injuries include:
- Bruises, cuts, and punctures
- Sprains, strains, and tears
- Broken bones
- Spinal injuries
- Facial trauma
- Whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries
- Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
Certainly, the physical impact of a serious motor vehicle accident cannot be understated. It’s also important to consider how a traumatic crash can affect a person’s mental health as well. Many injured victims also experience emotional distress and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a life-changing accident.
Proving Liability in Distracted Driving Crashes
If you are hurt in an accident caused by a distracted driver, your Brooklyn distracted driving accident lawyer may be able to show that the other party was distracted at the time of the crash.
Your attorney may be able to determine that a tech device was in use or another form of distraction was at play, and that distraction directly led to the accident that caused your injuries.
Tell the police officer at the scene if you or someone else at the scene witnessed the driver on their phone or otherwise distracted. Dashboard camera footage can be used as evidence. The officer may check the driver’s phone as well.
Your lawyer can also subpoena cell phone records for definitive proof that a mobile phone was being used when the accident occurred.
How Our Brooklyn Distracted Driving Accident Attorneys Can Help You
Every licensed driver should be aware of the risks of distracted driving. If they disregard them and use a mobile phone or the like in any way, causing an accident, they should be held accountable. If your injuries were caused by another driver’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and other losses.
At The Rothenberg Law Firm LLP, our team of Brooklyn personal injury lawyers works on your behalf to recover maximum compensation for your injuries. With our network of private investigators and other experts, we have the resources and tools to build a solid legal strategy.
Over the past five decades, we have built a reputation of honesty and integrity, helping clients win the maximum compensation they deserve for their injuries. With billions won for our clients, we will put our experience to work for you. Call or inquire online to schedule a free consultation with our teams in New York, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania.