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Driving with distractions

Driving on the BQE is a demanding exercise with crowded lanes, unexpected stops and starts, unwieldy merges, broken-down vehicles, accidents, bridges and tolls. Yet some drivers still take it upon themselves to up the ante by insisting on distracting themselves with their mobile devices while behind the wheel.

While the state now provides special "texting zones" (the signage says "It can wait. Text Stop") on a number of highways outside the city, N.Y. laws are quite clear about the rules of driving while distracted. The bottom line is don't do it.

The most common examples of distracted driving include the following:

  • Talking on a cell phone while driving. If you truly need to talk to someone, pull off the road where it legal and safe to do so and make that call. The obvious notable exception would be to dial 911 to report an emergency.
  • Using your smart phone to read, create, or send messages via text or email.
  • Taking pictures or otherwise transmitting images via your device.
  • Playing games. Believe it or not, Pokemon GO can't to be played when you are driving.

The financial penalties if you get caught doing any of the above in New York could be substantial. According to the DMV's website, first offense ranges from $50-$200, second offense within 18 months ranges from $50-$250 and third or subsequent offense within 18 months is $50-$450. Each violation is five driver violation points - if a driver gets 11 points in an 18-month period, you may lose your license.

There also is sobering data from the National Safety Council announcing that 26 percent of motor vehicle accidents involve texting or hands-free mobile devices. The results can be much worse than a simple fender bender as well, with the possibility of broken bones, massive medical bills for back and spine injury or head and brain injury. It could even result in death -- according to the NSC, the rate of motor vehicle fatalities was up 8 percent in 2015. This is the highest jump in 50 years.

In a split instant, your life can change forever by a severe accident. If you are a victim in a distracted driver accident and were injured, an attorney experienced in motorized vehicle accidents in New York City will be an immense help in knowing your rights and helping you recover money for damage to property or personal injury not covered (or not sufficiently covered) by insurance. Perhaps there is a loss of revenue because you are unable to work; an attorney may be able to help recoup some of those losses or future losses.

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