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Recent efforts across the country to combat distracted driving are in full force in New York City. According to a news story from ABC 7 New York, a recent initiative focused on putting a stop to texting while driving and other distractions that can result in deadly car accidents.
The city-wide initiative aimed to reduce serious distractions that plague drivers when they are behind the wheel. Whether it is sending a text message, talking on a cell phone, or simply inputting information into a GPS device, these distractions can cause serious car accidents. 

Reporting on the NYPD initiative, ABC 7 reminded viewers that texting while driving is illegal. In fact, it is illegal to use your cell phone at all unless you are using a hands-free device. In addition to injuring drivers and passengers in other vehicles, members of the NYPD are particularly concerned about pedestrians in our busy city. When a driver takes his eyes off the road to look down at a cell phone, he might not see a pedestrian who is crossing the street. In fact, pedestrian accidents often result in catastrophic and fatal injuries, even when the pedestrian properly uses a crosswalk.

During the distracted driving initiative, the NYPD issued more than 5,000 tickets to drivers caught illegally using their cell phones. In particular, the crackdown focused on drivers who failed to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, according to an article from CBS New York. The breakdown of the tickets included:

  • Nearly 3,000 tickets issued for using a cell phone while driving;

  • More than 1,200 tickets issued for failing to yield to pedestrians; and

  • More than 1,000 tickets issued for texting while driving.

The crackdown was part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to drastically reduce traffic fatalities through his Vision Zero program. According to statistics collected by the NYPD, pedestrian fatalities have declined by more than 30 percent since the program began.

Distracted Driving: How Serious Is It?

In New York City, fines associated with distracted driving offenses are as follows:

  • 1st offenses lead to a ticket from $50 to $150;

  • 2nd offenses result in a fine ranging from $50 to $200; and

  • 3rd offenses include a fine that ranges from $50 to $400.

New York state law, as the ABC 7 news story emphasized, prohibits drivers from using portable electronic devices when they are behind the wheel. According to an online publication from the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee, New York specifically prohibits drivers from "holding a portable electronic device; talking on a handheld mobile telephone; composing, sending, reading, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving, or retrieving electronic data such as email, text messages, or web pages; viewing, taking, or transmitting images; or playing games." In short, if you are behind the wheel, you cannot use a handheld phone or other smart device.

Contact a New York Car Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a traffic collision caused by a distracted driver, it is important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Contact an experienced New York City car accident attorney to learn more about filing a claim for financial compensation.

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