Despite tough laws, distracted driving still a problem in New York

New York has some of the strictest distracted driving laws in the country, yet violations continue to rise.

Experts say distracted driving accidents are most prevalent among teenagers

New York enjoys some of the toughest distracted driving laws in the country, but despite those tough laws many drivers in the state are still not getting the message, according to the Hamburg Sun. Citations for distracted driving throughout the state continue to rise, with a 35 percent increase last year alone. Safety experts say the problem appears to be particularly pronounced among teenage drivers, who are more likely to text while driving and more likely to be involved in a car accident caused by distracted driving.

Danger still present

The fine for using a cellphone while driving in New York can be as high as $200 for a first offense. Violators also face five points on their license if convicted of using a cellphone while behind the wheel. Such penalties make New York's distracted driving laws some of the strictest in the country, but regardless of those tough laws texting-and-driving citations between 2013 and 2014 have gone up a significant 35 percent, official figures show.

That increase goes to highlight the extreme danger distracted driving continues to pose for drivers throughout New York and the country. About a fifth of all car crashes in the state are caused by distractions, for example, and throughout the U.S. distracted driving is implicated in thousands of deaths every year.

Teenagers at highest risk

While driving distracted is dangerous for anyone, the risk seems to be especially acute among teen drivers. According to the Ithaca Journal, for example, a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded that distracted driving, which most often is caused by cellphone use while driving, is a factor in 58 percent of crashes involving 16- to 19-year-old drivers. The risk-factor is especially high among young drivers since they are engaging in an already dangerous behavior while also often lacking the experience to fully understand how a vehicle behaves at high speeds.

Safety experts say that when it comes to making teens better drivers, parents and adults are ultimately the ones who are most responsible. Close to 90 percent of teenagers say their parents are the number one influence on their own driving behaviors and other studies have shown that half of teenagers are less likely to be in a crash if their parents set out clear driving rules beforehand.

Car accidents

While preventing accidents from happening in the first place should be everybody's goal, unfortunately there will always be some negligent drivers who continue to put every other driver's life at risk, often for nothing more than the sake of a text message. When an accident does happen, it is important to understand what steps to take next. One of the first calls a person who has been involved in an accident should make is to a personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney can help victims understand the process during the post-accident recovery phase, including possibly pursuing compensation from any potentially at-fault drivers.

Keywords: New York, distracted driving, car accident