Tougher penalties in place for distracted drivers in New York

During the month of April, law enforcement officers in New York and across the country recognize Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Recently, in New York, the penalties for violating the state's distracted driving laws became more severe.

In New York, motorists are prohibited from using a handheld cellphone while behind the wheel and from texting while driving. Previously, drivers who were caught talking on a handheld cellphone while on the road faced a fine of $100 for a first offense - that fine has now increased to $150. Motorists who violate the texting ban face the same fine. In addition, New York drivers who violate the texting or handheld cell phone ban on multiple occasions will face fines of up to $400.

These penalty increases may be in response to the rising number of people killed in motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers every year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of people killed in such collisions increased by 64 from 2010 to 2011. In total, 2011 saw 3,331 fatalities and 387,000 personal injuries caused by distracted driving collisions.

New York law enforcement officers have made significant efforts to stop motorists violating the laws. During the first 11 months of 2012, there were approximately 26,000 citations issued to people violating the texting ban across the state.

Motorists in New York who sustain personal injuries due to traffic collisions involving distracted drivers ought to seek the advice of a qualified personal injury attorney to ensure their rights are protected.

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