- April 19, 2017
April is Distracted Driving Awareness month and SDG Law is supporting Central Hudson’s “Thanks for Putting Down the Phone” campaign. According to the National Safety Council, 26% of automobile accidents now involve the use of cell phones. Drivers who are using cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in an auto accident, yet people still use their cell phones while driving.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that distraction now contributes to 16% of all fatal accidents, and that number is believed to be significantly under-reported since it’s often difficult to prove distracted driving caused an accident. You can read more about the statistics here.
Let’s step back a moment. What qualifies as a “distraction”?
There are three main types of distractions:
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving
Distracted driving activities include things like using a cell phone, texting, and eating. Using in-vehicle technologies (such as navigation systems) can also be sources of distraction. While any of these distractions can endanger the driver and others, texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction. According to the National Safety Council, the activity in the brain that processes moving images decreases up to 33% when listening or talking on a phone.
Safety aside, what can you expect if you are pulled over for a distracted driving charge?
- If you are caught with your cell phone while driving, you can get up to five (5) points on your license.
- Based on points, your insurance can go up.
- New York State fines to a maximum of $200 for first-time offenders and up to $450 for three-time offenders.
- Drivers under 21 with a texting or talking while driving conviction will have their junior license or permit suspended for up to 120 days. With a second conviction in six months, those licenses or permits is revoked for one year.
- If you have been involved in an accident that leads to serious injury or death you could face a severe punishment including vehicular manslaughter or homicide charges.
Distracted driving isn’t just a problem with teenagers. It is just as common with adults. Nearly half of commuters admit to texting while driving”, AT&T survey, 2013 – 49% of adults admitted to texting while driving (43% for teens) – 40% call it a habit; 6 in 10 did not do it 3 years prior. Read more about similar stats on the End Distracted Driving (EndDD) website. EndDD was created by the parents of a young woman in our area who was killed by a distracted driver. Speakers from the group educate drivers at schools and businesses. Its website has information and resources for presenters.
No matter who you are, or what your circumstance may be, no message, or phone call is that important. It can wait until you have stopped driving. If you or someone in your family has been affected by a distracted driver, contact our offices immediately.