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New York increases efforts to stop distracted driving

The month of April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Distracted driving has proven to be a big problem in this country. Statistics show that in 2013, over 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving related accidents. In the same year close to 424,000 people were injured in car accidents involving distracted drivers.

To address the alarming death and injury toll, the state of New York has decided to make more of an effort to stop distracted driving. The state's efforts will focus specifically on texting while driving. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced earlier this month that state troopers will be on the lookout for motorists using handheld devices while behind the wheel.

These troopers will be in marked and unmarked vehicles and will aggressively target anyone using a phone while driving. Drivers over the age of 18 caught texting behind the wheel will face significant fines. Younger drivers will face license suspension.

The crackdown on distracted driving isn't new to the state of New York. Last fall, New York State Police issued over 500 tickets to drivers using handheld devices. While headset cell phone use is safer than hand-held cell phone use, studies have shown that it is not significantly safer. State officials hope that the increased enforcement will encourage drivers to avoid distractions of any kind while behind the wheel. Distractions can include eating and drinking, talking to passengers, cell phone usage, adjusting a radio or GPS and reading. These distractions have proven to be potentially fatal and have devastated countless families all across the country.

When a person is killed in an accident caused by a distracted driver, surviving family members have the right to sue that driver for negligence and recover damages. An experienced personal injury attorney can help family members understand their rights.

Source: WABC-TV, "New York Cracking Down on Distracted Drivers," April 10, 2015

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Michael J. Gaffney, Attorney at Law
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