Distracted driving killed more than 3100 people in 2019 and injured countless more, according to the NHTSA. It's no secret that distracted driving is dangerous, especially texting or using a cell phone while driving, but there are many forms of distracted driving. Understanding the types of distracted driving, examples of distracted driving and the laws around distracted driving in New Jersey and New York can help you stay safe on the road and know what to do if you’ve been the victim of a car accident caused by distracted driving.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the primary task of driving. There are three main types of driver distraction and these include:
- Visual distraction (taking your eyes off the road)
- Manual distraction (taking your hands off the wheel)
- Cognitive distraction (taking your mind off driving)
Of all the forms of distracted driving, texting while driving is by far the most dangerous because it involves all three elements of distraction: visual, manual, and cognitive. The NHTSA reports that cell phone use was reported in 18% of the distracted-related fatal crashes and that texting takes the driver's eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds; that's equivalent to driving the length of a football field blindfolded at 55 mph. Other examples of distracted driving include:
- Eating while driving
- Operating a GPS system
- Reading a map or directions
- Changing stations or music on the radio or audio system
- Putting on makeup or grooming
- Talking and looking at a passenger or child in the car
- Taking your eyes off the road to deal with an unrestrained pet in the car
- Using a cell phone in any capacity
- Texting while driving
New Jersey Distracted Driving Law
In New Jersey, it is a primary offense for a motorist to talk or text message with a hand-held wireless telephone or electronic communication device while driving, which includes talking or listening to another person on your cell phone and/or sending or reading text messages. Fines for a first offense range from $200-$400 and increase with each subsequent violation.
New York Distracted Driving Law
Under New York state law, it’s illegal to “use a hand-held mobile telephone or portable electronic device while you drive.” Like New Jersey, this includes talking on the phone, texting or reading messages, viewing or taking images, and any other activity on your phone. The only exception is if you need to use your phone in the event of an emergency to call 911.
New Jersey and New York’s law focuses on preventing the use of cell phones while driving because of the increased risk of an accident. Other forms of distracted driving like eating and driving are not illegal but drivers should avoid these activities to stay safe on the road.
What to Do If You’ve Been in a Distracted Driving Accident
If you or someone dear to you has been hurt in a traffic accident caused by a driver you know or suspect was distracted, remember these few important tips:
- Call the police – Calling the police should be done after any type of car accident, as it can ensure emergency medical personnel are notified if necessary and that a law enforcement officer can collect information and statements in order to create a police report.
- Collect information – In addition to the police report, you too can collect information from all parties involved. If there are any witnesses, you can ask them if they noticed whether the other driver was distracted at the time of the crash. You can also take pictures of the accident scene and the vehicles involved.
- Speak to an attorney – The best thing you can do following a distracted driving accident is to consult with an experienced lawyer. By speaking with an attorney soon after the crash, you can provide all details of the incident while they are still fresh in your head.
Brandon J. Broderick, Car Accident Lawyers in New Jersey and New York
At Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, our legal team has recovered millions of dollars in compensation on behalf of car accident victims, including many who were injured in accidents caused by distracted drivers. Our legal team is available to review your case at no cost, and discuss how we can immediately begin working on establishing fault and liability, and pursuing the financial compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.