On November 1, 2009, New York’s statewide ban on texting while driving goes into effect. The law was designed to prevent or reduce serious New York car crashes such as the tragic accident last year in which several young teens lost their lives when the driver lost control and struck a tractor trailer while texting. However, what makes little sense is that the law as presently written does not permit the police to issue a ticket for the violation unless the operator is guilty of another moving violation, such as speeding or an unsafe lane change. Thus, as long as the texting driver doesn’t speed, go through a red light, or switch lanes suddenly, they will not be issued a summons. Obviously, the New York State Legislature either did not think this law through very thoroughly, or the texting lobby has done a very good job of taking some bite out of the bill.
The fine for a violation of the new law is $150.00. Graham Parker, a spokesman for the New York State Senate Transportation Committee, claims that the “Legislature will keep in touch with law enforcement agencies after the law takes effect and can change it if needed.” Nonetheless, if the purpose of the law was to deter distracted driving and prevent New York fatal car accidents or serious injuries, I personally do not see how this toothless law will do much to accomplish that goal. Distracted driving has become such a serious issue that Ray LaHood, the U.S. Transportation Secretary, has announced that there will be a “distracted driver” summit in Washington on September 30th and October 1st to review the problem.
Local police departments have become more skilled at detecting drivers who are texting while driving, despite the fact that many will hold their phone below dashboard level. Methods include using vehicles that give them the ability to look down into nearby cars to identify texting drivers, stationing a plainclothes officer at a location where he can look down into cars slowing for traffic and then notify a cruiser up ahead, or simply watching body language and eyes looking down rather than straight ahead.
Contact the personal injury lawyers at the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel in White Plains, New York for a free consultation with an experienced, aggressive and knowledgeable advocate if you are the victim of any type of accident in New York.