New York State’s New Anti-Texting-While-Driving Law Takes Effect

Yesterday, Sunday November 1, just as we were turning our clocks back an hour, New York State’s anti-texting law went into effect. The new law prohibits using mobile devices behind the wheel for reading, typing and sending text messages. The penalty for violating the mobile-device law is $150. You can text that number by punching only 3 keys! Is this a good law?

From my vantage point, definitely. I just took in a Geneva, New York car accident case in a month ago, where a man was badly injured by a young lady who crossed the centerline of a road and hit him head-on near the city of Geneva, Ontario County, while texting. To add insult to injury, the insurance on the texter’s car had expired days before the accident. She had not bothered to renew it. The only recovery available to our client will come from his own “supplemental un/underinsurance motorist coverage“.

Of course this was not the first texting crash in Ontario County or elsewhere in New York State. Most famously, and tragically, in June of 2007, a texting teenager who was driving along Routes 5/20 in Bloomfield, Ontario County, with 4 teenage passengers, crashed and killed herself and all her youthful passengers. They had just graduated from high school.

So yes, we need a law that prohibits texting and other uses of mobile devices while driving. But does the law go far enough? The way the law is written, police can issue a driver a ticket for using a mobile device only if the driver is charged with some other violation as well. Think about it: If the driver is speeding and texting, she can get slapped with double whammy, but if she is driving in an otherwise perfect manner, she can text a big “hello” to the cop as she drives away! Sound logical? It’s not. Sounds like some behind-the-scenes compromising went on in pushing that law through.

It may not be a strong enough law, but it is moving us in the right direction. There are more and more car crash cases where the at-fault driver was texting instead of paying attention to the road. The car accidents are often deadly because the driver doesn’t even brake or slow down before impact —- he or she is too busy ogling the little screen and toggling the keyboard to notice the impending collision.

Please don’t text and drive.

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