Consequences of Using Your Cell Phone While Driving in New York

The consequences of using your cell phone while driving in New York span from traffic charges to civil liability. Many states have placed bans on texting while driving or the use of handheld phones. Using a cellphone while driving can result in fines or even criminal charges.

The reason why the NYPD could give you a ticket is that many sources agree that use of a cell phone while driving can be a deadly distraction. By prohibiting the use of cellphones while driving, the state is trying to prevent distracted driving accidents.

You Could Face Criminal Charges for Using Cell Phones While Driving in New York

New York has banned the use of all handheld mobile devices while driving. According to New York State law, you cannot hold a portable electric device while driving for any reason, including talking on your cell phone. There are a few exceptions.

A driver can use a cell phone or portable electronic device to call 911. A driver may also use a cell phone or other handheld device to contact fire, police, or medical personnel in an emergency.

Individuals who break the law can receive a traffic ticket, which subjects them to a fine. In addition to the fine, the state adds points to the person’s driving record.

Most insurance companies increase premiums for drivers who have points added to their license. Some providers may substantially increase insurance rates because cell phone use while driving is considered one of the worst types of distracted driving, especially texting while driving.

Distracted Driving Accidents Can Happen Due to Cell Phone Use

Distracted driving accidents result in thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries each year. In 2018, over 400,000 people sustained injuries in crashes involving distracted drivers. Additionally, 2,841 people died in distracted driving accidents in 2018.

Any activity that takes your focus away from driving is considered a distraction. Common distractions include, but are not limited to:

  • Texting while driving
  • Use of cell phones or other electronic devices
  • Eating and drinking
  • Grooming or changing clothes
  • Taking care of pets or children
  • Reaching for objects
  • Adjusting vehicle controls
  • Watching videos
  • Taking photographs or making videos
  • Reading, writing, or sending emails
  • Posting to or reading social media content

Distracted driving continues to be one of the most common causes of car accidents. Cell phone use, including texting while driving, continues to be one of the most common types of deadly distractions individuals engage in while driving.

Why is Texting While Driving Dangerous?

Some people claim that distracted driving is just as dangerous, if not more dangerous than drunk driving. When a person is distracted even for a few seconds, the person may swerve into oncoming traffic or collide with another vehicle or object. It only takes a few seconds for a distracted driving accident to occur.

Texting while driving or using a handheld electronic device tops the list of dangerous distractions. The reason is that the driver’s visual, cognitive, and manual functions are all occupied with a task other than driving.

For example, to send a text, the person must take one or both of his hands off the steering wheel (manual distraction). The driver must look at the device instead of looking at the road ahead (visual distraction). Lastly, the driver’s mind is focused on the text instead of driving (cognitive distraction).

Distractions involving all three areas increase the risk of a distracted driving accident.

Establishing Liability for Distracted Driving Accidents

If a driver causes an accident because he or she is distracted, that driver is liable for damages caused by the crash. Civil liability is another costly consequence of using a cell phone while driving.

Under New York personal injury laws, if a person is responsible for causing a distracted driving accident, that person can be held liable for the victim’s financial, emotional, and physical damages.

Damages from a distracted driving accident caused by cell phone use can include:

  • Medical bills and expenses
  • Loss of benefits and income
  • Emotional distress and mental suffering
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Cost of personal care
  • Therapy and counseling costs
  • Medications and medical equipment
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Impairments and disabilities

The amount of compensation the victim is entitled to receive depends on numerous factors. The severity of the person’s injuries is a significant factor in the value of a car accident claim. However, the cost of medical treatment and the loss of income are also important factors that affect how much a car accident claim is worth.

If the driver does not have sufficient insurance to pay the claim, the victim may file a personal injury lawsuit seeking a personal judgment against the driver. Depending on the circumstances, the driver could be liable for a substantial amount of money, especially if the person sustained a catastrophic injury.

Family members who lost a loved one in a distracted driving accident can seek compensation by filing a wrongful death action. While money does not ease the loss of a family member, it can provide some level of comfort to hold the person responsible for the death accountable for his or her actions.

Accidents Caused by Cell Phone Use Are Avoidable

Remember, you can avoid accidents related to cell phone use by turning off your cell phone while driving. You can also use several apps and features to place the cell phone into the “do not disturb” mode. Avoiding cell phone use while driving can save lives and prevent needless injuries.

Mirman, Markovits & Landau, P.C.
291 Broadway 6th Floor
New York, NY 10007
(212) 227-4000