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Are Higher Fines for Cell Phone Use While Driving in the Pipeline?

Are Higher Fines for Cell Phone Use While Driving in the Pipeline?

The use of mobile, electronic devices has led to an increase in the number of road accidents throughout the United States. New York has long been in the forefront of attempts to reduce these accidents, and in their efforts to curb the rise in these types of accidents, New York legislators may be raising the fines for individuals who are caught using cell phones or any other mobile device while driving.

Statistics relating to accidents caused by cell phone use and distracted driving in general are quite disturbing. It is said that a driver who texts or is on a mobile phone while driving is 23 times more likely to get into an accident than a driver who is not texting. Distracted driving is not limited to texting or calling while driving. It also includes eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading (including maps), using a navigation system, watching a video, and even adjusting a radio, cd player, or mp3 player.

The percentage of accidents actually caused by drivers using a cell phone at the time of the crash is likely to be under reported, simply because it is hard to determine who was using one at the time of a collision unless it can be confirmed by visual sighting by a police officer or by camera. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which keeps records for the entire nation, recorded just under half a million people injured for 2010 and 2011 as a result of distracted diving, while over 3000 fatalities were recorded annually during these two years.

Fines for using a cell phone while driving may go up from $100 to $150 for a first offense and even as much as $400 for repeat offenses, if Brooklyn Democrat Assemblyman Felix Ortiz’s submission gets a favorable hearing this year. Mr. Ortiz has long been a champion of distracted driving legislature, although not every proposal submitted by him has been passed. Another submission by Mr. Ortiz which is to be seriously considered by the state assembly is for all cell phone use to be banned completely, including hands free sets, while driving.