What You Need to Know About Distracted Driving Laws in New York

New York State has more than 300,000 motor vehicle accidents each year, with 9% being caused by distracted drivers. Even though the most effective way to prevent distracted driving accidents is to keep both hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road, many drivers are very likely to engage in one or several of these behaviors:

  • Idle daydreaming
  • Eating and drinking
  • Grooming
  • Reading or viewing maps or GPS information
  • Having lively conversations with passengers.

Most common distractions are legal, although potentially hazardous, but the New York State law prohibits some acts explicitly. Ultimately, anything that takes your attention from driving could be dangerous.

Distracted Driving Laws in New York

Distracted driving laws in New York bar the use of handheld electronics like mobile phones, remote controllers, and other devices while behind the wheel. Under the law, you cannot operate a handheld device at any time while driving except to report an accident.

Texting is especially prohibited because it keeps busy at least one hand in addition to the mental distraction it causes. You should never text and drive or operating in any other way your handheld phone while driving.

Other specific activities that are mentioned in the Empire State’s law include:

  • Talking on a handheld device
  • Composing, receiving, sending, saving, retrieving, and browsing electronic data
  • Playing electronic games, which can be very tempting on long drives.

Violations may result in a ticket, fine, and surcharge, as well as points against your license, which may increase your car insurance premiums or lead to license suspension if your total points exceed 11.

Distractions Are Dangerous While Driving

The worst consequences of distracted driving are losing your life or causing the death of someone else. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it takes as little as two seconds to look away from the road to up your risk of crashing. If you are talking or texting when driving, you’re two to three times more likely to cause an accident than a non-distracted driver.

Common Driving Distractions

Distractions come in all forms: personal, internal, and external. There’s not a lot you can do about a crying toddler, but you could avoid participating in an argument with a fellow passenger. Examples of personal distractions include focusing on financial problems, daydreaming, applying makeup, using electronic devices, or consuming drugs or alcohol, which can alter your reaction times and skew your judgment.

Internal distractions include crying children, misbehaving pets, unsecured objects in the vehicle, or conversations with other passengers. External distractions include inclement weather, extensive traffic concerns, roadway obstacles to avoid, other motorists, and even billboards or signs.

The NHTSA reports that 80 percent of the crashes reported in New York State were caused by driver inattention at a critical moment. The most common cause of accidents is operating a handheld electronic device, but if you routinely try to read all the advertising you see, it can be just as dangerous as illegal distractions.

If you were injured in a car crash caused by a distracted driver, talking to a car accident lawyer in New York can answer your questions about distracted driving laws in New York and whether your case has legal standing. In many states, distracted driving, even if not illegal in nature, can be a deciding factor in assigning liability.