What is Considered Distracted Driving in New York?

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No matter their location, distracted drivers present a threat to everyone around them, from their fellow drivers to pedestrians. When a driver stops paying attention to the road, the results can be disastrous. Distracted driving car accidents can dramatically and permanently change a victim’s life in seconds.

New York State takes distracted driving very seriously. This post will cover what behaviors are considered the main types of distraction when driving and the consequences of this dangerous driving behavior. If you were struck by a distracted driver and want to pursue compensation to cover your injuries and losses, contact our knowledgeable car accident attorneys at The Coppola Firm at 716-839-9700 or by using our online contact form.

What is Distracted Driving

man looking at his phone while driving

Unfortunately, distracted driving has become a serious public issue. It occurs when a driver’s attention and focus are taken away from the road by another diversion, such as an electronic device. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) separates types of driving distractions into three categories: cognitive, visual, and manual.

Cognitive Distraction

Cognitive distractions cause a motorist to experience mental distractions while driving, even if their eyes are on the road and their hands are on the wheel. Common examples of cognitive distractions include listening to music, talking with passengers, daydreaming, getting engrossed in phone calls (even if hands-free), and otherwise processing other stimulation while they should be focused on the road. Most people never realize they are distracted when engaging in these behaviors.

Visual Distraction

Visual distractions cause drivers to look away from the road. Visual distractions include looking at other passengers, side-of-the-road crashes, police activity, phone notifications, GPS, navigation systems, and billboards. Even glancing at those dancing tubes on street corners can distract a driver from carefully watching the road.

Manual Distraction

Drivers taking their hands off the steering wheel for any reason are engaging in manual distractions. This includes grabbing cell phones to check text messages, changing playlist songs, eating, drinking, smoking, grabbing a wallet to find a credit card, helping children in the back seats buckle up seat belts, or fiddling with the car’s climate control. Manual distraction behaviors quickly become dangerous because they significantly slow drivers’ reaction times. Drivers cannot react quickly enough to road situations when their hands are otherwise occupied.

What Are the Dangers of Distracted Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving claimed more than 3,500 lives in 2021. These accidents are also responsible for numerous injuries.

The dangers of distracted driving include injuring yourself or others, such as pedestrians, cyclists, or other motorists. Not only can distracted drivers cause themselves serious injury, but they can also face the consequences of injuring or killing another person.

Which Group of Drivers is Most Likely to Drive Distracted? 

teen driving while looking at her phone

Statistically speaking, it is more common for younger drivers to engage in distracted driving. In 2020, seven percent of drivers aged 15–20 involved in a fatal accident were reported as distracted, the largest proportion for any age group. The prior year, almost 40 percent of high school teen drivers said they had texted or emailed while driving in the last 30 days. Despite recognizing the dangers of distracted driving, teens often engage in this risky behavior.

How Can You Avoid Distractions While Driving? 

The best way to avoid a distracted driving collision is to keep both hands on the wheel and place your phone on Do Not Disturb so you remove the temptation of texting, calling, or checking social media notifications.

Most people also play music on their phones or use a GPS app to reach their destination or avoid traffic. To prevent distractions associated with music and GPS apps, make a song playlist or queue and set your GPS coordinates before you hit the road.

What Are the Consequences of Driving While Distracted in New York?

The consequences of distracted driving in New York State are, at minimum, a fine and a citation. New York State law also empowers police to utilize primary enforcement with distracted driving. This means they do not need another cause to pull you over. If an officer sees you on your phone, they can turn on their lights and signal you to pull to the side of the road. Furthermore, if you hit another vehicle or object while driving distracted, you could face additional financial penalties and receive points on your license.

Common Car Accident Injuries in New York

man holding his neck in pain

Sadly, car accidents are one of the leading causes of death in New York. Unfortunately, even survivors of distracted driving accidents suffer various injuries, ranging from minor to severe.

Head Injuries

A head injury can forever change a victim’s life. From a concussion to a severe traumatic brain injury, a blow to the head can lead to long-term or permanent disability. Common effects include physical, cognitive, or emotional injuries.

Spinal Injuries

Spinal injuries usually involve long-term recovery or permanent disability for those hurt. Victims suffering from one may lose strength, sensation, or function of body parts. In severe cases, they experience paralysis.


Most bruises are common minor car accident injuries and heal in about a week or two. Not all bruises are minor, though; some could signal internal bleeding. It is essential to monitor bruises carefully after a crash, especially those to the head. Seek medical help immediately if signs indicate that your bruises are not healing or other symptoms emerge, such as numbness, loss of motion, weakness, additional swelling, increased pain, vomiting, nausea, or headaches.

Broken Bones

Car crashes often leave victims with broken bones, not all of which are initially noticeable. Hairline fractures, chest injuries, and broken ribs are serious injuries that could initially be overlooked. Other common bone breakages resulting from car accidents include closed fractures, open fractures, partial fractures, displaced fractures, and non-displaced fractures. In some cases, bones in the back may break, but even if not, other painful back injury types are unfortunately very common.

Were You Hit By a Distracted Driver in New York? 

Distracted driving can escalate to danger quickly by causing vehicle crashes. Did you or a loved one suffer an injury or loss due to a driver not giving their full attention to their driving? Our caring and compassionate attorneys at The Coppola Firm want to help you. Our lawyers collectively have many decades of experience and can assist you by pursuing justice and the compensation you need to cover your medical bills and other expenses.

To schedule a free consultation for your personal injury case, contact The Coppola Firm at 716-839-9700 or fill out our convenient online contact form. A member of our legal team will return your contact as soon as possible.

Lisa Coppola

Written by Lisa Coppola

Founder of The Coppola Firm

Lisa A. Coppola, Esq. understands the challenges her clients face, whether they’re starting a new business, taking their existing operations in a new direction, or facing a claim or threat.

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