Enforcement and Awareness of Distracted Driving Laws Reduces the Risk of Car Accidents in Manhattan, Elsewhere

July 21, 2011
By Ronai & Ronai, LLP on July 21, 2011 11:27 AM |

Our Manhattan car accident attorneys know that New York City is one of the greatest tourists spots in the country but when tourists visit and are unaware of distracted driving laws in our state, and local residents ignore the law it creates a high risk for car accidents in New York City.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, New York is one of only 9 states that considers driving with a handheld cell phone a primary offense and motorists can be ticketed without other cause.
New York also prohibits text messaging by all drivers. Knowledge of state laws and awareness that you can be ticketed are key components in reversing what has become a public health threat in our country with an average of 15 deaths caused by distracted driving every day.

A pilot study in New York and Connecticut has provided positive results in reducing the number of distracted driving accidents occurring in Syracuse and Hartford. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advertising, public awareness through campaigning and heightened law enforcement throughout the two cities has shown a reduction in cell phone-related accidents throughout the four phases of the program.

Each program was provided $300,000 in state and federal funding to resource towards enhancing law enforcement throughout the city as well as using public address announcements and other forms of advertisement to sway motorists from talking on their cell phone while driving. The "Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other" slogan was campaigned throughout each city to drive the point home to motorists that if they chose to talk or text they would be pulled over.

The New York results:
-High visibility enforcement resulted in a decline of one-third less handheld cell phone use and texting practices while driving.
-9,587 violations were cited to drivers during the four phases of the program.

"The success of these pilot programs clearly show that combining strong laws with strong enforcement can bring about a sea change in public attitudes and behavior," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "We applaud the work of the men and women of the Syracuse and Hartford police forces, and call on state legislatures, law enforcement and safety advocates across the nation to follow their lead."

GHSA reports no state bans all drivers from using cell phones completely, meaning prohibiting both handheld and hands-free use of devices while behind the wheel. Instead, each state has addressed cell phone use and texting allowances on an individual basis.

This could all change very soon. According to an article in Auto Trends, the proposed Safe Drivers Act of 2011 is a bill that would call on the government to federalize banning cell phone use while driving nationwide. The only exception under the proposed bill would be to call for emergency help.

The downside if passed is that cognitive distractions would still exist because hands-free devices located in the vehicle would still be permitted. Once the Safe Drivers Act of 2011 is passed, states would need to mandate and comply with enforcing the law within two years or else risk losing considerable federal funding provided to the state.

A call for consistency is definitely needed to help motorists understand that distracted driving is not tolerated no matter where you live or where you visit. Finding a way to reduce deaths and injuries caused by distracted drivers using a cell phone is necessary and an important step in our future.

If you have been injured by a distracted driver in Manhattan, Westchester or the surrounding areas, contact the car accident attorneys at Ronai & Ronai, LLP. Call toll free for a no-obligation appointment at 1-800-664-7111.

Additional Resources:

Safe Drivers Act of 2011 Introduced to Congress, by Matt Keegan, Auto Trends Magazine

New York Drivers at High Risk of Car Accidents by Motorists Failing National "Rules of the Road" Test, New York Injury Lawyer Blawg, June 20, 2011

New York Toughens Penalties for Distracted Driving; Fewer Car Accidents the Goal, New York Injury Lawyer Blawg, March 20, 2011