As if their weren’t already enough distractions in New York City keeping drivers’ eyes off the road, smartphones, tablets, and GPS devices are now capturing the attention of motorists across the city.
Distracted driving has always been a problem in New York-I’ve witnessed this firsthand as an experienced Brooklyn car accident injury attorney-but has evolved over the past two decades. Before smartphones and other electronic devices, distracted driving entailed eating, applying makeup, attending to children, or rubbernecking. Today, while these things still cause car accidents, texting, checking social media sites, setting GPS destinations, and answering calls have topped the list.
In the state of New York, drivers are prohibited from using portable electronic devices. This includes talking on a handheld mobile device, texting or emailing (composing, sending, reading, accessing, saving, retrieving, etc.), web browsing, taking, viewing, or sending pictures, and playing games.
There are some exceptions to the law. You may use hands-free mobile phone, for example, such as a Bluetooth device that allows you to keep both hands on the wheel while communicating. You may also use a handheld electronic device that is affixed to a vehicle service (if you have your GPS mounted on your dash, for example).
In the event of an emergency, such as a fire or accident ahead, you may also call emergency personnel to report the incident.
If you are caught using a handheld electronic device while you’re driving, you may have five driver violation points added to your driving record. For a first offense, you may also be fined $50 to $150.
While these fines and points may seem inconvenient, the overarching goal is to protect you, your passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians by preventing distracted driving car accidents. Please be smart and safe behind the wheel, and cut distracted driving to a minimum. By collectively doing so, we can New York City’s streets a safer place for everyone.