Combating the growing problem of distracted driving, New York State Police recently began an aggressive enforcement campaign across the state. Distracted driving, which includes a wide variety of activities that range from texting to changing the radio station, is illegal in New York and across many states in the country. While tickets for talking on the phone while driving have dropped in recent years, New York issued 20 percent more tickets for texting drivers in 2017 – bringing the total to 110,000 tickets. According to police, this high number of tickets still only represents a small fraction of distracted driving violations that occur across the state daily.
Nationwide, almost 3,500 people are killed each year by distracted driving. In New York alone, 160 people were killed and 33,000 injured in accidents caused by a distracted driver in 2015, the most recent year with data available. For drivers who are 29 and younger, distracted driving contributed to almost 30 percent of all car accident fatalities across the country, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
According to The New York Times, the drivers who were cited for distracted driving varied in the behavior. In one instance, a retired police officer imprecisely turned across four lanes of traffic while scrolling through his phone. Another driver was watching a music video while driving through a residential area. Other examples were more benign, a driver who was talking on the phone to a family member or a teenager reading a text message from one of their friends.
While most drivers seem to recognize the danger of using their phone on the roads, the consequences of being caught can still be severe. A ticket for distracted driving costs up to 250 dollars in New York. In addition, a successful conviction for distracted driving or using a cell phone while driving can cost the driver up to five points their license.
In Westchester County alone, police officers issued 54 tickets during the five-day sting at the beginning of April, according to White Plains Daily Voice. The amped-up statewide enforcement follows several local busts in the last year, which include 20 tickets issued to Yonkers motorists in January and crackdowns on Taconic State Parkway and Saw Mill Parkway. According to LoHud.com, texting while driving tickets have increased substantially in recent years – from 167 in 2015 to 480 in 2016. This represents a 187 percent increase in distract driving tickets just related to texting motorists in Westchester County.
Contact the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC with any questions if you were involved in a distracted driving car crash.