Distracted driving is a leading cause of injury and fatal traffic accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2014, 3,179 people died and more than 431,000 were injured in distracted driving accidents. A 2015 Erie Insurance survey found drivers engage in many types of distracted driving with texting and driving being the most common. One-third of drivers surveyed admitted to texting while driving.
Distracted driving accidents are a big problem in the U.S. but fortunately, victims may be eligible to recover compensation for their losses. For help filing a claim, call a distracted driving accident lawyer in New York at Buttafuoco & Associates: 1-800-NOW-HURT.
Types of Distracted Driving
Texting and driving is the most commonly identified type of distracted driving, but it is not the only problem. Distractions can take many forms:
- Eating or drinking
- Adjusting in-cabin controls
- Talking to passengers
- Reaching for objects in the car
- Personal grooming
- Lack of sleep/fatigue
New York laws prohibit certain types of distracted driving. New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) § 1225-c prohibits the use of mobile telephones to engage in a call while in control of a motor vehicle. Section 1225-d addresses the use of portable electronic devices, which includes using a device with a data plan to send and receive messages or to view content.
Another law, VTL § 1226, establishes that the driver of a motor vehicle must keep at least one hand on the wheel at all times while the vehicle is in motion. Many of the distractions above take both hands off the wheel and therefore violate New York law.
Drivers need to be free from distractions and impairment while driving. The law may also consider fatigued driving to be distracted driving because the operator is not able to focus completely on driving.
Proving Driver Distraction after an Accident
Proving a driver was distracted at the time of an accident involves more than a statement from the victim. You need to establish evidence that clearly shows the driver’s distraction as the cause of the accident. This evidence may come in the form of witness statements, phone records, or police reports.
In cases of drivers distracted by cell phones or electronic devices, obtaining the evidence to support your accusation can be difficult to do alone. The average person cannot request another person’s phone records or seize and search a phone. It takes a police official or legal professional with the proper authorization to perform such evidence gathering.
New York legislators are currently considering a bill to allow police officers to carry a device that can check if drivers were using their phone at the time of the crash. If legislators sign this bill into law, evidence proving distracted driving may become easier to obtain.
Establishing Negligence in an Accident Caused By a Distracted Driver
Under New York’s no-fault insurance law, you must first establish that your injuries are serious enough to step outside the system. If you are able to do that, you then need to establish that the driver was negligent by driving distracted.
Per New York law, all drivers must operate their vehicle in a safe and responsible manner. Through witness statements, photos of the accident site, and police reports, you can prove the driver violated his duty of care to maintain control of his vehicle and drive in a safe manner.
If the police report cites the driver for cell phone use or use of a portable electronic device, that information can help you prove the driver was liable for causing the accident. Even if the police report contains no citations for distracted driving, if another person witnessed the accident you can use her testimony that she saw the driver texting just before the collision.
Seeking Damages for an Accident Caused by a Distracted Driver
Distracted driving can result in serious injury or death. If your insurance does not cover all of your damages or you suffered the loss of a loved one, call Buttafuoco & Associates at 1-800-NOW-HURT.
Call us to schedule a free case consultation.