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Distracted Driving: The Texting-and-Driving Crackdown

In 2012, it was estimated that New York police officials issued over 20,000 tickets to drivers and operators of motor vehicles for texting while driving. The most recent crackdown in New York City has been attributed to the dangerous effects that texting while driving (or other operations of a cell phone while driving) has had on public safety on the roads. 

The Dangers of the Distracted Driver

It was estimated that distracted drivers, those using some handheld electronic device (generally thought to be a cell phone), were four times more likely than not to be involved in a motor vehicle accident as a result of their distracted driving. This rate is comparable to the rate that intoxicated drivers who have a blood alcohol content of above the legal limit of .08 have in the case of getting involved in an accident.

A study created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that for 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near crashes the primary contributing factor to the incident was the driver taking his eyes off the road seconds before the incident.

New York's Texting-and-Driving Penalties

New York, in its most recent amendments to its vehicle and traffic laws in 2013, toughened its texting-and-driving initiatives, and has started to treat texting-and-driving incidents similarly to drug and alcohol violations. Texting-and-driving offenses after June 1, 2013 carry a penalty of five driver violation points that will be added to a driver's record. A driver only needs to be issued 11 points in 18 months for the driver's license to be suspended. Drivers, depending on the number of offenses that they have been cited for when it comes to use of their handheld electronic device, may pay a fine anywhere from $50 to $400.

Should Third-Party Texters Be Liable for Accidents?

In neighboring New Jersey, they have recently permitted liability to be attached to a third-party texter who is in a remote location (i.e. not in the car with the driver). If the distracted driver is involved in an accident and the primary source of the distraction can be proven to be the texter, then the texter could be held partially responsible for any damages sustained as a result of the injury. It would have to be proven that the texter knew or had reason to know the driver was in fact driving and that the driver would see the text while driving.

As a result of this most recent case, New Jersey created a new duty of care to a third-party texter to not text someone who is driving a car if the texter has reason to know that the person is in fact driving and will see the text. It was determined that the mere act of texting the messages to the driver may not be construed as active encouragement of the driver to break the law. The elements of this new, third-party duty have only limitedly been considered and could be the beginning of new liability law within in the area. Presently, New York has not espoused a similar duty to a third party.

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car crash in New York City due to distracted driving, you may be able to recover damages for any injuries sustained as a result of the driver's negligence. Please contact one of our experienced personal injury lawyers at Keogh Crispi, P.C. Our accident lawyers will be able to walk you through your case step-by-step and explain the various avenues for recovering on your personal injury claims. Call us today at 212- 818-0600 or through our interactive website.

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