Cell Phone Use While Driving Causes Accidents
This past summer, I was asked by a very close friend to represent her in Traffic Court. She wanted me to fight a ticket she received for texting while driving. My friend was traveling along 6th Avenue in Manhattan attempting to make a turn in her SUV. While turning, a police officer noticed her gesturing in a way that suggested that she was texting. She was pulled over and issued a ticket for violating Vehicle and Traffic Law 1225(d). (See www.safeny.ny.gov). While cross-examining the Police Officer, it became apparent that he never actually saw her with the phone in her hand and the judge dismissed the case. At the time of the alleged infraction, my friend had the phone in her lap as she had just hit the termination button of a hands free call. After a few minutes of celebrating our victory, I told her if she ever got pulled over again for anything involving the use of a cell phone or any other electronic device, she should call another lawyer. My message to her was simple; DON’T OPERATE A MOTOR VEHICLE WHILE USING AN ELECTRONIC DEVICE. PERIOD! Using a cell phone or any electronic device while driving is a recipe for disaster. As a personal injury attorney with more than 17 years of experience, I have seen terrible traffic accidents in which people were either killed or seriously injured. They lead to lawsuits claiming wrongful death or injuries like broken bones, facial disfigurement, brain trauma, torn knees, neck and back injuries, etc.. Many of the car accidents were caused by inattentive driving. It has always been my opinion that a driver owes a duty to anyone within their, what I like to call, “zone of danger” to put 100 percent of their attention to operating their motor vehicle. But our world of social media and the use of handheld electronic devises to tap into that media has left us more and more hungry for information. Our need to communicate with friends and family through our handheld electronic devises has become habitual. I’m just as guilty, I want to know who just sent me an email or text. I want to make that call to a friend, family or colleague while sitting in traffic on the FDR, but it just doesn’t mix well when operating a motor vehicle. We need (me included) to learn to shut these devices off when we get behind the wheel of a car. Why is going hands free not an option? Why not maximize voice recognition to make that telephone call? Why not use voice recognition to send that text or send a message through Facebook? Because even hands free, it is distraction that goes beyond listening to the radio, says Dr. David Strayer, a psychologist at The University of Utah who at the request of AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety was able to quantify our level of driving distractions while doing things like talking to friends, listening to the radio, using the voice activating system or interacting with GPS while driving. (See https://westerncentralny.aaa.com/news-room/distraction-tops-list-growing-dangers-road-drivers) The conclusion, “Hands-free technologies might make it easier for motorists to text, talk on the phone, or even use Facebook while they drive, but new findings…………show dangerous mental distractions exist even when drivers keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.”. (See http://newsroom.aaa.com) My friend and I took a ride the other day and i am happy to say that her cell phone was neatly tucked away in her bag. Unfortunately, I was driving and my cell phone was neatly tucked away on my lap. What are your thoughts?