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Are New York’s Distracted Driving Laws Effective?

Distracted driving is a big problem on the nation’s roadways. Most states-including New York-have determined that they can reduce motor vehicle accidents if cell phone use while driving was banned, and have passed laws preventing or limiting cell phone use while driving. But a new study by researchers at the Highway Loss Data Institute reveals that state distracted driving laws are not curbing crash rates.

A recent study at the University of Utah found that distracted drivers exhibit similar behaviors as drivers with a .08 percent blood alcohol concentration, including a delay in reaction time and the inability to maintain a stable distance from the car in front of them. Another study at the same university found that texting while driving is more dangerous than having a phone conversation while driving.

Due to the severity of the problem, New York has passed some of the toughest distracted driving laws in the country. It joins just seven other states in banning all handheld phone use (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington are the others); in New York using a handheld cell phone is a primary offense, meaning a law enforcement officer can pull someone over just for using the phone. Texting while driving is a secondary offense in New York, meaning that an officer can only cite a driver for texting while driving if the driver commits another traffic offense.

But how effective are all these tough laws? A recent study by the Highway Loss Data Institute found that in four of the states with the toughest bans-California, Connecticut, New York and Washington-there was no decrease in crashes caused by distracted driving, even though the bans have decreased phone use.

Clearly there is a disconnect between state laws and crash rates. More study of how to best prevent distracted driving is imperative to creating laws that effectively protect attentive drivers from distracted drivers.

Important Information

COVID-19 (Novel Corona Virus)  Update 3-20-2020

By order of Governor Andrew Cuomo, beginning 3-22-2020, all non-essential business in New York state must close their physical offices in response to the rapid rate of positive reported cases of COVID-19 in New York State.

Although this will impact the in office and in person services that LIT can provide, we will still be working remotely from our homes to serve our existing clients and we will continue to serve the public on a remote basis with any new legal matters for which they may need assistance.

We as a nation have overcome great obstacles in the past and although the challenges that lie ahead of us as community, as a state, and as a nation are great, we will overcome them as our resilience as individuals, as a community and as a nation will allow us to prevail.

May all of you and your loved ones be safe and well .

Larkin, Ingrassia & Tepermayster, LLP


Should you have any questions please feel free to contact us at 845-566-5345

For more information regarding the COVID-19 virus please visit any of the following sites:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

NYS Department of Health

Orange County Dept. of Health

Ulster County Dept. of Health

For information and updates regarding court postponements or closings please visit:

NYS Unified Court System

9th Judicial District

3rd Judicial District