Wellborn Paluch, LLP Blog

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Driver Selfie: It Can Wait

Q: What are New York’s rules on cellphone use while driving?

The popularity and use of smartphones is exploding. Even toddlers can navigate them. Most millennials’ phones are virtual extensions of their hands. From apps to internet, and entertainment to shopping, cellphones are virtually indispensable for business and pleasure. It’s no exaggeration that cellphone use is a national addiction.

But what about cellphones in the car?

When phone technology first entered the motor vehicle, just juggling attention to your phone conversation with paying attention to the road was a new challenge for the average brain, especially when one hand was holding the phone. This led to texting while driving which requires taking one’s eyes off the road. Now, there is something even more dangerous. Something that requires a more extended distraction…driving selfies.

A selfie is a picture taken of oneself. The taking and posting of multiple selfies per day is an integral part of the smartphone culture of many millennials. Is it narcissistic? Arguably yes. Is it dangerous or deadly? Absolutely-- if done while driving.

Auto accidents attributed to distracted driving selfies—which take at least 2 seconds-- are increasing. Two seconds during which a driver’s eyes are completely off the road they are travelling on. Two seconds that can cover a distance of multiple basketball courts at a speed of 60MPH and can result in a tragic car accident or pedestrian accident that takes or alters someone’s life. And video selfies take even longer.

It’s true that a fully charged smartphone brings a sense of security when travelling by car in the event of a breakdown, accident, or when travelling alone. But since many people are unable or unwilling to turn them off or ignore them while driving, legislation followed in an attempt to regulate their use and reduce roadside tragedies.

In New York and in 13 other states, it’s illegal to drive while talking on a handheld mobile phone. In addition, a driver can’t hold a portable electronic device; access emails, texts, or websites; take, view, or share any images; or play any games. The very limited cellphone use exceptions for non-emergency worker drivers include using a hands-free mobile phone, using a GPS or other device which is mounted to the vehicle, or calling police or fire departments in an emergency. The penalty is a $400+ fine and 5 points on your license. It can wait, people.

If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident that wasn’t your fault, whether by a distracted or otherwise negligent or reckless driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the Buffalo, New York law firm of Wellborn Paluch at 1-844-855-HURT for a free consultation or reach us online here.

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