The Dangers of Distracted Driving
One of the fastest-growing dangers on the roads today is distracted driving. Whether it’s due to driver negligence or outside factors, more and more crashes are occurring because of inattention to the road. A survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that motorists who look away from the road for 2 or more seconds will double their risk of a crash, and those who are engaged in a secondary task such as talking or texting on their phone are 2-3 times more likely to be involved in an accident.
Distracted driving is a huge danger, but it’s also one of the easiest hazards to correct and combat. The state of New York has joined others throughout the nation in imposing specific bans on devices that cause the greatest disturbances while driving. First, though, it’s important to understand the different kinds of distractions that drivers face when they take to the roads.
Distractions While on the Roads
There are various distractions which can occur while driving. These include personal, internal, and external distractions.
- Personal distractions are those which are caused by and relate directly to the driver. Some examples would be daydreaming, the effects of drugs and/or alcohol, reading, writing, applying makeup, or using electronic devices.
- Internal distractions occur within the car, caused by other passengers, animals, or objects within the vehicle.
- External distractions are created by elements outside the car, and include other motorists, weather, and even the scenery.
According to the NHTSA, 80% of crashes in New York were caused by driver inattention. The most prevalent form of distraction has become the use of cell phones and electronic devices. To combat this, the state legislature passed a cell phone law that leaves no doubt as to the severity of this issue.
New York State’s Cell Phone Law
The use of any hand-held cellular phone while driving is prohibited on any New York road. Anyone who violates this law will be issued a traffic violation which will carry a fine of up to $150. Additionally, there will be 2 points assessed to the offender's drivers license and driving record.
New York State has very specific definitions of what constitutes a handheld device. According to NY law, a handheld device can be a cell phone, personal digital assistant (PDA), laptop, pager, video game console, or any other portable computing or communications device. When you have any of these in your vehicle, you may not use them in any way (though there are some specific exceptions, which are listed below).
Exceptions to the Rules
Drivers will not suffer penalties if they are seen using an electronic device that is built into their vehicle, such a dashboard computer, nor will they be penalized for using a handheld device that is attached to the car itself. This can include GPS devices, mobile phones, MP3 players, and the like - as long as the device is not being used in the drivers hand.
The New York distracted driving laws DO allow drivers to use their mobile phone in-hand when calling to report an emergency on the road, or to contact their physician or a hospital in the event of a personal emergency.