The dangers of driving while distracted are well-documented. Every driver should know that taking your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel and attention away from the task of driving makes a person more likely to crash.
Unfortunately, too many people ignore distracted driving reports or think they are above the law – including people tasked with enforcing the law. And this type of negligence can have catastrophic consequences.
Taking distracted driving laws seriously
Using a cellphone while driving is among the most distracting things a driver can do. Thus, states, including New York, have laws that prohibit drivers from using a hand-held device. And some drivers, including taxi drivers, cannot use a phone at all while driving, even if it is in hands-free mode.
But when you are driving, you typically do not have to wait very long until you see someone on the road distracted by their phones. Too many people do not take distracted driving laws seriously.
Even police officers and emergency responders break this law. Back in 2019, for instance, a state trooper crashed into a van, severely injuring five people. An investigation revealed that the trooper had opened Facebook on his phone less than a minute before the crash. He had also sent or received hundreds of texts during his shift.
Reports found that the trooper failed to stop in time to avoid hitting the van stopped in traffic. Had he been focused on the road, he would have had time to stop safely. According to a Buffalo News article, New York State Trooper Stephen Barker was traveling at a high rate of speed on I-90 in Chautauqua County when he rear-ended the passenger van. Campbell & Associates represents one of the victims of this reckless conduct and will be taking his case to trial in Buffalo next month.
Holding distracted drivers accountable
When people use a cellphone while driving, they put every other road user in danger. But the penalties are not enough to dissuade drivers from putting their phones down. For a first offense, someone using a phone while driving could face a fine of just $50.
Penalties are more severe when someone is hurt or killed in a crash caused by a distracted driver, but there is plenty of room for a person to get out of the harshest penalties. Some drivers face prison time while others receive a misdemeanor and conditional discharge.
Because of this, injured victims and their families must take their options seriously to file civil claims against distracted drivers. Doing so cannot undo accident damages, but it can help victims collect the compensation they deserve and hold a negligent party responsible.