In a comparison of texting bans, New York’s comes out ahead

New York, along with an increasing number of other states, has enacted legislation aimed at preventing car accidents caused by cellphone-related distracted driving. New York's distracted driving law, which is one of the most comprehensive in the nation, bans not only texting and emailing while behind the wheel, but also talking on a handheld phone or otherwise using a handheld mobile device while driving.

However, some critics have questioned whether these laws are actually effective at reducing distraction-related traffic accidents - especially when it comes to texting and driving. When compared to talking on a handheld phone while driving, texting behind the wheel is often far less visible, thus making that portion of the law relatively difficult for police to enforce. Nevertheless, a recent study shows that texting bans really do help put a dent in the number of texting-while-driving accidents in the states that have them.

Details make the difference in texting laws

According to the study, which was conducted at the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama, state bans on texting while driving correspond to a decrease in traffic fatalities of up to 11 percent. However, not all texting bans are equally effective at preventing distracted driving deaths.

One of the key factors affecting the impact of these laws is how they are enforced. Many texting bans, like New York's, are primarily enforcement laws, meaning that police officers are permitted to conduct traffic stops specifically to ticket texting drivers. Other states, meanwhile, have secondary bans. This means that police can only issue citations for texting while driving when a driver has been stopped for another traffic violation, like running a red light. The study showed that primary enforcement bans are significantly more effective at reducing fatal texting-while-driving accidents.

Another relevant factor is how the prohibited behavior is defined in the statute. Some states have laws that are phrased in such a way that they apply only to texting and emailing, which creates a "loophole" when it comes to other equally distracting activities, such as browsing the web or posting to social media sites like Facebook. On the other hand, some states have laws that define the prohibited activities more broadly, which the researchers found to be more effective. New York, for example, bans drivers not only from sending, viewing, receiving or composing text messages and emails, but also from playing mobile games or taking pictures while driving.

A lawyer can help after a crash

When a texting driver causes an accident in New York, he or she may be liable to anyone who is injured in the crash. Depending on the circumstances, the injured party may be entitled to receive monetary compensation for medical costs, rehabilitative care, lost wages and other damages. People who have been hurt by texting drivers in New York are encouraged to seek legal advice from a personal injury lawyer at the earliest opportunity.