A while ago, we got a great driving tip from a salesman who worked the Adirondacks. He said watch for any horizontal line against the vertical trees. Those “lines” are often deer ready to dash in front of you. We’ve driven with that in mind ever since…and have had avoided trouble with some close calls. It really works.
Driving Central New York has gotten as dangerous as the Adirondacks. But not because of deer…Texting and driving is epidemic. We’re constantly looking for oncoming traffic swerving into our lane…always wary of drivers texting and driving. But unlike deer, people don’t have to behave this way.
How many close calls have you had with the car coming at you swerving, the driver’s head down? And what about traffic barreling in behind you with a green light, but the idiot just ahead doesn’t realize it’s green cause he/she is looking away, texting.
How Bad Is Texting and Driving?
It’s gotten so bad the U.S. Department of Transportation has set up a website, www.Distraction.gov, to help fight against distracted driving. They’ve got some mind blowing stats on their site:
In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers and 424,000 were injured. In the same year, alcohol related deaths amounted to 10,076 according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
That means that distracted driving caused 30% as many deaths as alcohol!!
10% of drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported distracted at the time of the crash.
Of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes, 27% were in their 20s. But that doesn’t mean older drivers are off the hook. Not every distracted driver involved in fatal crashes was in their 20s. We’re noticing people of all ages swerving in and out of their lanes all the time.
At any moment during daylight, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or electronic devices while driving.
Tasks such as reaching for a phone, dialing, and texting increase the risk of getting into a crash 3 times.
The average amount of time your eyes are off the road while texting is five seconds. Doesn’t sound like much? Traveling at 55 MPH it’s the same as covering the length of a football field…blindfolded.
And headset cell phone use is not much safer than hand-held use.
Texting and Driving is Trouble for New York State Drivers
So what are the legal consequences of distracted driving? In New York State* it is a violation to use a hand-held mobile telephone or send a text or an email while you drive. The fine for a first offense is a minimum of $50/maximum $200. Second offense within 18 months is $50/$250 and third or more $50/$450. Along with the fine, the offense carries five violation points against your license.
Note to probationary and junior drivers with Class DJ or MJ drivers license or learner permit: First conviction for a cell phone or texting violation will result in a SUSPENSION of the drivers license or permit for 120 days. And, a second conviction within six months of the restoration of the license or permit (after the 120 day suspension is terminated) will get you a revocation of at least one year of a probationary license or a revocation of at least one year for a Class DJ or MJ license or learners permit.
*Info on New York State law from NYS Dept. of Motor Vehicles. Find out more here.
Bottom line, if you text and drive you are taking the lives of everyone around you in your hands. All of us at Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig ask that you stop your car in a parking lot or off to the side if you must text.
Better yet, forget about your hand held technology, concentrate on the road, and enjoy the peace and quiet of the ride.
Until next time,
Your SZW Team
PS. By the way…teens, parents, employers, educators…we highly recommend you check out the site mentioned above, www.distraction.gov. You’ll find help there in combating texting and driving along with some very powerful, emotional videos that we hope will convince you to never text and drive again.
PPS. An editorial in the May 1, 2015 Utica Observer Dispatch praised the New York State Police for handing out 17,447 tickets during their five-day “Operation Hang Up” distracted driving crackdown in April. Of those, 2,752 were for talking or texting on a cell phone. We join the OD in thanking the State Police for getting people off their phones and saving lives with their effort!
Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig, Inc. is your New Hartford area independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000.