State trying to crack down on distracted driving, especially among teenagers
A new state law went into effect Nov. 1 that significantly increased the penalties for texting while driving, according to the Democrat and Chronicle. The law specifically targets younger drivers with tough new penalties, including license suspensions, if convicted of texting or talking on a cellphone while driving. The news comes just as a recent study shows that many forms of distracted driving continue to increase across the U.S., despite mounting evidence that it substantially increases the likelihood of car accidents.
The law that went into effect across New York in November will primarily hit young drivers. People under 21 years of age who are convicted of a first texting or talking while driving offense will now face a 120-day license or driving permit suspension. If a young driver then commits a second offense within six months of the license or permit being restored, then he or she faces a one-year license or permit revocation.
The law does not just target young drivers, however. Fines for texting and driving have increased for everybody. For a first offense, the maximum fine is now $200, compared to the previous limit of $150. For second and third offences the new maximum fines are $250 and $450 respectively.
Smartphone use increasing
While safety advocates praised the tough new penalties, a recent State Farm study found that many drivers are still not getting the message about the dangers of distracted driving. According to USA Today, the study found that while talking on a cellphone while driving has decreased, other activities, like checking e-mails and social media when behind the wheel, have increased in the past six years. Texting and driving rates, meanwhile, have remained about the same.
One of the problems according to the study is that many drivers wrongly believe that using a smartphone when they are stopped at a traffic light is relatively safe, despite laws making the practice illegal. What many drivers do not know is that over a third of all crashes occur at intersections, and many of those are caused because stopped drivers failed to notice potential dangers from other motorists.
Car accident claims
Although distracted drivers in New York now face tougher penalties for texting or driving behind the wheel, it is still all too clear that many drivers will continue to flout the law. By using their phones while driving, these motorists put the safety and lives of countless other drivers at risk every day.
Anybody who has been injured by a potentially negligent driver should get in touch with a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help clients understand the legal ramifications of their particular case and whether financial compensation can be pursued against the negligent driver.