According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s most recent statistics, in 2015 distracted driving crashes caused 3,500 fatalities and almost 400,000 injuries. While teens are four times as likely to engage in the dangerous behavior no one is immune.
Distracted driving can be classified into three categories: Visual, Manual and Cognitive. While any activity leading to distracted driving is dangerous, texting and driving is by far the most hazardous, combining all three levels of distraction. The average time it takes for an accident to occur is three seconds. Texting and driving causes the driver to take their eyes off the road for a minimum of five seconds. This equates to driving the length of a football field at 55mph.
In New York State the law prohibits anyone from holding a portable electronic device while operating a vehicle. This can be defined as talking on a cellphone, texting, emailing or taking a picture. This can also include using an electronic device to play a game. The penalty if caught violating this law includes five points on your license and a fine. The fine issued is dependent upon your driving history. For example, the fine after your first time violating the law can range anywhere from $50-$200 while a driver with multiple offenses may receive a fine of $400. Between 2011 and 2016 New York residents saw a 918% increase in tickets for texting and driving.
The increase in ticketing is used to deter drivers from the danger at hand. Most drivers who engage in distracted driving believe they can do so without consequence. However, what many don’t realize is you are six times more likely to cause an accident when texting and driving when compared to driving while intoxicated.
New technology is helping to deter distracted driving. Many drivers are choosing to enable a “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature that sends an automatic message to friends and family if you receive a text while driving. The new feature also disables notifications so drivers are not tempted to check their phones. Furthermore, modern companies such as Mazda and Mercedes-Benz are beginning to redesign their vehicles to limit distracted driving. The companies are moving screens once integrated into the center control stack to the top of the dashboard. By moving the screens drivers are able to keep their focus within their field of vision without taking their eyes off the road.