Distracted driving has attracted a lot of attention recently, and for good reason. There has been a striking rise in the number of accidents resulting in injury and death as the result of people texting while driving. In fact, over 3,000 people were killed and another 424,000 were injured in motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers last year. One study found that drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident than those who do not text while driving.
As a result, New York has taken an aggressive stance towards distracted driving caused by cell phone usage. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on May 31, 2013 that the penalty for using a cell phone or texting while driving will be increased from a three (3) point violation to a five (5) point violation. In addition, a person with a junior or probationary license who is convicted of texting or using a cell phone while driving will face suspension or revocation of his driving privileges.
All drivers owe a duty of reasonable care in the operation of his or her vehicle. This is a basic principle of our law which applies to all persons who choose to drive, articulated through court decisions. When a driver fails to exercise reasonable care, he breaches this duty and will be liable if he causes injuries to another. The New York Legislature has enacted laws that place specific penalties upon drivers who fail to exercise reasonable care by texting or using their phone to place or receive a call while driving.
For instance, under New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1225-c,: “no person shall operate a motor vehicle upon a public highway while using a mobile telephone to engage in a call while such vehicle is in motion.” While there are limited exceptions, such as making an emergency call or using a “hands free” device, this law carries a presumption that you violate this section if you are holding the phone to your ear or mouth. This presumption can be rebutted if you can show that you were not actually using the phone at the time.
Texting or using electronic devices while driving is governed by New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1225-d. Under Sub. 1: that “no person shall operate a motor vehicle while using any portable electronic device while such vehicle is in motion.” The law defines a “portable electronic device” to include a cell phone. Further, the law defines “using” to include texting, retrieving, or sending e-mail or other electronic data.
When a driver uses his or her cell phone to make or receive a call or send an email or text message causes an accident and someone is injured, he faces legal liability for those injuries and damages. Our Albany car accident attorneys at Anderson, Moschetti and Taffany have litigated thousands of cases and know how to use the laws described above as effective tools to recover the money damages to which you are entitled under New York law. We have the resources to conduct a thorough investigation of the facts and circumstances of the car accident to ensure that the important evidence is discovered and preserved.