NY Laws Against Using Phones While Driving

Deaths from car accidents are on the rise. A recent New York Times Article reports that after a steady decline over the last four decades, highway deaths last year recorded the largest annual percentage increase in the past 50 years. In the first six months of 2016, highway deaths jumped 10.4 percent to 17,775. The rise in highway deaths is being attributed to drivers being distracted by their phones and other mobile devices. The distractions come from not only talking or texting, but drivers using apps. That many new cars have Wi-Fi capabilities, is only making the problem worse.

In New York there are laws that prohibit drivers from using phones or mobile devices while driving.

The New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) contains the following applicable sections:

1125-c (2)(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, no person shall operate a motor vehicle upon a public highway while using a mobile telephone to engage in a call while such vehicle is in motion; provided, however, that no person shall operate a commercial motor vehicle while using a mobile telephone to engage in a call on a public highway including while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays...
1226(d)(1) 1. Except as otherwise provided in this section, no person shall operate a motor vehicle while using any portable electronic device while such vehicle is in motion; provided, however, that no person shall operate a commercial motor vehicle while using any portable electronic device on a public highway including while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays....

In the case of using a mobile telephone to engage in a call, "using" is defined as " holding a mobile telephone to, or in the immediate proximity of, the user's ear". In regards to using a portable electronic devise, "using is described as: “holding a portable electronic device while viewing, taking or transmitting images, playing games, or, for the purpose of present or future communication: performing a command or request to access a world wide web page, composing, sending, reading, viewing, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving or retrieving e-mail, text messages, instant messages, or other electronic data. The definitions of "using" are even more restrictive for the operator of commercial vehicles.

Thus a driver in NY may not legally: talk on the phone while holding the phone to or near the ear; physically dial the phone while driving; text and drive; Google and drive; Snapchat while driving; check Facebook while driving, etc. The prohibition on checking and using one's phone, includes while the car is stopped in traffic at a red light or for other reasons.

Even, when a driver is legally using a device, such as talking on the phone through Bluetooth, a driver is required to "see what there is to be seen" and will be held liable for an accident caused by their failure to see because they were distracted.

If you have been involved in a car accident caused by a driver distracted by use of a cell phone or other electronic device you should consult with a NY Personal Injury Lawyer experienced in handling motor vehicle accident cases.

Zalman Schnurman & Miner P.C. are NY personal injury lawyers experienced in handling injury cases including those caused by drivers distracted by cell phones, texting, and otherwise using electronic devices. All consultations are free. There is never a fee unless there is a recovery. For a free legal consultation call 1-800-LAWLINE (1-800-549-5463).


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