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Three Tips to Help You Avoid Distracted Driving

Nichols Law Offices, PLLC March 9, 2022

A man using smartphone while driving carIf you stood on the corner of a busy intersection anywhere in New York and watched drivers, you would no doubt see them engaging in a range of activities completely unrelated to operating a motor vehicle. Whether they were waiting for a traffic light to change or whizzing down the road, you would see food and drink consumed, text messages sent, videos watched, lipstick applied, and much more. You might wonder how anyone can get through a single day on the road without getting into an accident in New York.

If you want to learn more about what you can do to be a more focused driver, attorney Craig K. Nichols can help. He has represented hundreds of clients in Syracuse, New York, and in Rome, Fort Drum, Watertown, Utica, and throughout Jefferson County. He has seen the negative impact distracted drivers have made on the lives of the individuals and families he serves.

What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is so much more than texting and driving. It is anything that takes your eyes off the road and draws your attention away from driving safely. In addition to using your mobile phone, distracted driving includes adjusting knobs on the dashboard, eating and drinking, smoking, reaching for something in the vehicle, putting a pacifier back in a baby’s mouth in the backseat, daydreaming, or even engaging in conversation with passengers.

How Is Distracted Driving Dangerous?

There are plenty of risks associated with inattentive driving. Even at slow speeds, a collision can cause serious injury and death. The dangers are tremendous, and so is the responsibility of everyone who gets behind the wheel.

Taking your eyes off the road for even a millisecond can result in a collision with another vehicle, pedestrian, or bicyclist, or with a fixed object such as a sign, guardrail, or median. If your mind is not focused on your driving, watching other vehicles and pedestrians around you, traffic lights and signage, your speed, or weather and roadway conditions, you risk swerving, colliding with something, and losing control of your vehicle.

What Are New York’s Distracted Driving Laws?

Using a handheld phone or portable electronic device while driving is strictly prohibited under New York law. That means you cannot make or receive calls, send or receive texts or other messages, take or receive photos, use the web, play games, or plug addresses into your wayfinding device or app.

If you are found breaking this law, you will be ticketed, pay fines, and have points added to your driver’s license. Even a first offense will cost you $200 in fines and add five points to your license which will drive up your insurance rates. Subsequent offenses and violations by commercial motor vehicle operators, probationary drivers, and permitted drivers are even more severe.

Three Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

Making a commitment to focused driving every time you get behind the wheel is the best way to avoid distractions while you are operating a motor vehicle. Here are three other tips to avoid distracted driving in New York:

  1. Adjust everything before you pull onto the roadway. Use your wipers to wash windows, adjust the rearview and side mirrors, get the temperature controls set, put your seat in the proper position, secure items in the vehicle, plug destinations into your navigation device, and take that last sip of coffee before you put the car in drive.

  2. Stow your phone out of sight and out of mind. Turn off your phone or silence notifications so you don’t hear them. Put the phone in a location where you are unable to see the screen, where it will not slide onto the floor, and where you will not be tempted to reach for it. Use outgoing message settings to advise texters and callers that you are driving, and you will be temporarily unavailable.

  3. Limit conversation, but ask for help if needed. Lively and serious conversations while driving can be as distracting as talking on your phone. Limit conversations and even ask for silence if you find yourself navigating in heavy traffic or dangerous weather conditions so you can focus. If you and a passenger need to have a serious or weighty conversation, make sure you save it for after the drive. However, if you need something while you’re driving and you have a passenger who can provide it, ask them to so you can keep your eyes on the road.

What if I’m Hit by a Distracted Driver?

New York is a no-fault state for auto insurance. If you are hit by a distracted driver, your insurance coverage will first pay for your injuries and other damages up to the limit of your coverage. If, however, your damages rise to the level of “serious” as defined by state law, you can pursue a personal injury claim against the other driver, so long as you can establish fault.

To prove liability, you may need to subpoena phone records of the driver if you believe they were driving while using their phone or another device. You may also need to provide evidence of other distractions, such as eating, drinking, or smoking at the time of the crash.

You may not be able or are equipped to investigate the accident, interview witnesses, obtain traffic camera footage, and subpoena phone records—but your trial lawyer will be. Especially in a no-fault state, an experienced personal injury attorney is the best advocate you can have.

How a Knowledgeable Attorney Can Help You

For three decades, attorney Craig K. Nichols has been helping clients in Syracuse, New York, and surrounding communities pursue personal injury claims against the distracted drivers who injured them. If you have been injured by someone driving while distracted, call Nichols Law Office, PLLC today to schedule a one-on-one case consultation. Put a seasoned professional to work for you.