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New York cracks down on distracted drivers

New York State is getting tough on drivers that use cell phones or text while operating their vehicles. During a summer crackdown, officers issued more than 21,500 tickets this year, as opposed to about 5,000 citations last year. Now drivers in New York who talk on cell phones or text are subject to fines of $150.

Government officials say that about 3,000 people are killed by distracted drivers each year. Texting while driving is prohibited in 41 states. Texting has also been blamed for an increase in pedestrian fatalities.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says that officials in New York have seen a threefold increase in distracted driving incidents. He said that a new generation has grown up attached to electronic devices and that now they are driving. Distracted drivers are now blamed for more highway fatalities than drunk drivers, he said.

Cuomo announced a new strategy that will designate existing highway rest areas as texting zones. The state will be putting up 300 new signs urging drivers to wait just five minutes to pull into rest areas and answer texts or voice calls. The governor said that the signs will remind drivers that there is usually no need to answer texts immediately.

A New Jersey appeals court recently ruled that even a sender of a text could be held liable for an accident if he or she was aware the receiver of the text was driving at the time. Laws against distracted driven have gotten more strict and sometimes accidents are clearly caused by driver negligence. Personal injury attorneys may be able to investigate cases of distracted driving, determine who was at fault and seek fair compensation.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "New York promotes 'texting zones' where chatty drivers can park", Tina Susman, September 23, 2013

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