Distracted Driving, Talking & Texting
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Police officers in New York State will be looking for cell phone law violators. Don't make a dumb choice with your smart phone.
Public information resources at distraction.gov
NEW YORK STATE'S MOBILE PHONE and PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICE LAWS
New York prohibits all drivers from using portable electronic devices.
Illegal activity includes holding a portable electronic device and:
- Talking on a handheld mobile telephone
- Composing, sending, reading, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving, or retrieving electronic data such as e-mail, text messages, or webpages
- Viewing, taking, or transmitting images
- Playing games
The law defines the following terms as:
(a) "Portable electronic device" shall mean any hand-held mobile telephone, as defined by subdivision one of section twelve hundred twenty-five-c of this article, personal digital assistant (PDA), handheld device with mobile data access, laptop computer, pager, broadband personal communication device, two-way messaging device, electronic game, or portable computing device.
(b) "Using" shall mean holding a portable electronic device while viewing, taking or transmitting images, playing games, or composing, sending, reading, viewing, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving or retrieving e-mail, text messages, or other electronic data.
Exceptions to the Laws
- When the driver uses a hands-free mobile telephone, which allows the user to communicate without the use of either hand.
- Using a handheld electronic device that is affixed to a vehicle surface.
- Using a GPS device that is attached to the vehicle.
- When the purpose of the phone call is to communicate an emergency to a police or fire department, a hospital or physician's office, or an ambulance corps.
- When operating an authorized emergency vehicle in the performance of official duties.
Violation Penalties and Fines — The penalty for a violation of this law shall be 5 driver violation points and a fine, as described below. This is a primary law, which means an officer may stop you if you are observed using a hand held device. It is illegal for drivers to use handheld electronic devices while their vehicle is in motion.
- For offenses committed between October 5, 2011 and May 31, 2013, the violation carried three driver violation points.
- For offenses committed on or after June 1, 2013, this violation carries five driver violation points.
On November 1, 2014, the following changes to the cell phone/texting laws for drivers with a probationary license, Class DJ, Class MJ or a learner permit take effect (for cell phone and texting violations committed on or after November 1, 2014):
- Conviction will result in a mandatory 120-day driver license or permit suspension.
- Subsequent convictions within six months of a license restoration will result in a a revocation of at least one year of a probationary license, junior license or learner permit.
On November 1, 2014, maximum fines for cell phone and/or texting use while driving will increase (for cell phone and texting violations committed on or after November 1, 2014):
- For a first offense, $50 to $200
- For a second offense committed within 18 months, $50 to $250
- For a third or subsequent offense committed within 18 months, $50 to $450
On October 28, 2013 the following changes to the mobile phone/portable electronic device use law for Commercial Drivers (CDL) take effect:
- A motor carrier must not allow or require their drivers to use mobile phones/portable electronic devices while driving.
- A mobile telephone used by a person operating a commercial motor vehicle shall not be deemed a "hands-free mobile telephone" when the driver dials or answers the mobile telephone by pressing more than a single button.
- Commercial drivers are prohibited from making a phone call or using a portable electronic device while the vehicle is temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays.
- An operator of a commercial motor vehicle who holds a mobile telephone to, or in the immediate proximity of, his or her ear while the vehicle is temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays is also presumed to be engaged in a call.
- An operator of a commercial motor vehicle who holds a portable electronic device in a conspicuous manner while such vehicle is temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays is presumed to be using the device.
Effective, July 26, 2013 fines for mobile phone/portable electronic device use while driving increased.
- For a first offense, $50 to $150.
- For a second offense committed within 18 months, $50 to $200.
- For a third or subsequent offense committed within 18 months, $50 to $400.
The surcharge for these violations that occur on or after July 26th is up to $93.
For texting and cell phone violations that occurred before July 26, 2013, the fines were:
Cell phone violation - Up to $100
Texting violation - Up to $100
The surcharge for these violations that occurred before July 26th was up to $85.
On July 1, 2013, the following changes to the cell phone/texting laws for drivers with a probationary license, Class DJ, Class MJ or a learner permit took effect :
- Conviction will result in a mandatory 60-day driver license or permit suspension.
- A second such conviction within six months will result in:
- a revocation of at least 6 months of a probationary license, or
- a revocation of at least 60 days for a Class DJ or MJ driver license or learner permit.
Cell Phone Use/Texting is a Danger While Driving
According to Merriam Webster, to DISTRACT is "to draw or direct (as one's attention) to a different object or in different directions at the same time." Any time a driver's attention is drawn away from the task of driving in a safe and defensive manner can be labeled as distracted driving. These distractions can be personal, external or internal.
Personal distractions can occur when the driver is impaired by daydreaming, alcohol, drugs, fatigue or unsafe practices like reading, writing, shaving, applying makeup or using electronic devices such as computers, cell phones, iPods or GPS navigation systems.
Internal distractions occur inside the car, caused by passengers, animals or objects inside the vehicle.
External distractions occur outside the car like other motorists, inclement weather, deteriorated road conditions, or even the scenery.
When these distractions occur behind the wheel of a motor vehicle the consequences can be far reaching or even deadly.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in a report created in April 2006 entitled, The Impact of Driver Inattention On Near-Crash/Crash Risk: An Analysis Using the 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study Data, driver inattention was defined for this report as one of the following:
- Driver engagement in secondary tasks (those tasks not necessary to the primary task of driving)
- Driver drowsiness
- Driving-related inattention to the forward roadway
- Non-specific eye glance away from the forward roadway
This study also listed "Driver Inattention" as the primary contributing factor to crashes and near crashes. Almost 80% of crashes and 65% of near crashes in this study involved the driver looking away from the forward roadway just prior to the conflict.
- Looking away for two or more seconds will double the risk of a crash or near crash.
- Driver inattention due to drowsiness will increase the risk of a crash or near crash by at least four times.
- A driver who is engaged in a secondary task while driving also increases their risk factor.
- The following actions: talking, listening or dialing a hand held device; inserting or retrieving a compact disc; operating a PDA; reading, applying makeup or eating will increase the driver risk factor of a crash or near crash by two to three times.
In recent years, the most frequent form of distraction while driving has been due to cell phone use and texting.
US DOT's Distracted Driving Site