Back in 2013, the laws in New York changed dramatically to attempt to curb
one of the fastest-growing threats to drivers: accidents caused by cell
phone use. On July 26, 2013, using a cell phone in
any capacity while driving became a moving violation, resulting in a minimum
fine of $50 plus surcharges and NYS driver points. The law was aimed at
tackling one of the largest causes of distracted driving, and statistics
in numerous studies demonstrated that drivers who had a phone to their
ear were far more likely to be involved in an accident. The risk increased
even further still for those who were sending or reading text messages,
checking email, using the internet, or even playing a game while driving.
However, legislators recognized that for some people a total ban on cell
phone use behind the wheel may be impractical and would cause them to
ignore the law and risk the fine anyway. Therefore, they left an exemption
to the rule: motorists would be allowed to continue to have their conversations
so long as they used some form of a hands-free device.
However, a recent study from the University of Sussex in England suggests
that these devices may not actually make talking on the phone and driving
any safer. The study found that phone conversations frequently require
drivers to engage in using “visual imagery,” or using brain
power to envision things in order to carry out the conversation.
According to the study, a driver tasked with mentally picturing some aspect of a conversation
was less able to detect potential hazards on the roads because their brain
was forced to “share resources.”
Distractions from Cell Phone Use
This is an excellent example of one of the three major types of driving
distraction, known as “cognitive distraction.” Cognitive distractions
are tasks or things that take your mind and focus away from what you’re
currently doing (driving) and have it focus on something else. Researchers
found that phone conversations tend to make drivers do this far more frequently.
However, conversations with other passengers also had a similar, if slightly-less
Cell phone use with a hands-free device can also lead to a second type
of distracted driving, especially in modern vehicles with added “convenience”
technology: visual distraction. Visual distractions are things that can
cause you to take your eyes off the road in front of you. Many new cars
these days include a full-function center console screen which can do
everything from display the name of who is calling you to the title of
the song playing and even read or display text messages for you. While
this prevents you from having to pick up your phone, the effect they have
is still the same: you take your eyes off the road, even for just a second
or so, which can dramatically increase your chances of an accident.
Have you been injured in a car accident and suspect a distracted driver
may have been at fault?
Lurie, Ilchert, MacDonnell & Ryan LLP can help! Our New York City car accident attorneys have the skill and
experience you need on your side to pursue the best possible outcome when
you have been injured by the actions of another. We are proud of our record
of substantial success, including 150 trials with verdicts or settlements
in excess of $1 million.
If you’re ready to pursue the best possible outcome to your case,
call Lurie, Ilchert, MacDonnell & Ryan LLP today at 646.461.4009 to