The Dangers of Distracted Driving in New York

Driving while impaired, whether from alcohol or drugs, is universally accepted as dangerous behavior, especially on the busy roads around New York. But there are everyday behaviors that can contribute to serious, and often fatal, auto accidents.

Distracted driving is steadily becoming the number one cause of car accidents in the United States, and it is no different in New York City. Whether a driver is texting, eating food, or arguing with passengers, any amount of inattentiveness can contribute to a collision. Drivers should always keep their eyes on the road and their focus on the task at hand, as even a single glance away can prove deadly.

If you or someone you love was injured due to a distracted driver, you should contact Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP. Our firm has more than 50 years of experience representing auto accident victims throughout New York City, and our New York distracted driving accident attorneys can provide strong legal guidance. We can thoroughly investigate your accident and determine how you can receive compensation for your injuries. To get started on a claim, call our office at (212) 986-7353 to schedule a free consultation.

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What Is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving can be described as any action or activity that draws a driver’s attention away from the road. While it has become more common since the invention of cell phones, distracted driving can include a wide variety of actions, including eating, applying makeup, combing hair, arguing with passengers, adjusting the radio, dealing with pets, and fiddling with purses or bags.

Distracted driving can be categorized into:

  • Cognitive Distractions: Any action or activity that distracts a driver’s mind, including conversations, stress, or daydreaming.
  • Visual Distractions: Any action or activity that draws a driver’s eyes away from the road, such as reading text messages, looking at passengers, or staring at billboards.
  • Manual Distractions: Any action or activity that takes a driver’s hands off the wheel, such as grooming, eating, adjusting a radio, or holding a phone.

Distracted driving is a looming danger in modern society as cell phone use becomes more prevalent. Despite the fact that most states now have anti-cell phone legislation for drivers, over 2,800 deaths and 400,000 injuries were attributed to distracted driving in a single recent year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In addition, further research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown that one in five deaths due to distracted driving involved pedestrians who were caught completely unaware by the collision. While these deaths include all demographics, one in four distracted drivers were between the ages of 20-29, but younger drivers between the ages of 15-19 are just as prone to driving while distracted.

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How Do Distractions Affect Drivers?

When a driver’s attention is drawn away from the road, it puts them at risk of colliding with other vehicles, pedestrians, or even buildings, causing catastrophic accidents. In addition, they may also lose track of their speed, fail to notice traffic signs, or run red lights. Given the widespread availability of text-to-speech and Bluetooth devices, there is no excuse for becoming distracted by a cell phone. Unfortunately, many drivers have failed to correct this dangerous behavior and continue to cause serious accidents, including:

  • Intersection accidents, such as running a red light or rear-end collisions with stopped vehicles
  • Dooring accidents, which occur when vehicle occupants blindly open their doors into oncoming traffic, injuring bicyclists and motorcyclists
  • Rear-end collisions with cars that have stopped or are moving slowly
  • Rideshare accidents that occur when drivers are distracted by app notifications or GPS guides
  • Delivery driver accidents caused by hired drivers being distracted by delivery updates
  • Side-swipe collisions that occur when drivers take their hands off the wheel and drift into other lanes
  • High-speed collisions due to inattentiveness
  • Failing to notice pedestrians in crosswalks

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New York’s Cell Phone Laws

Using a cell phone while driving in New York is not only reckless, but also illegal in the State of New York according to Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1225c. This law states that all drivers are prohibited from using a portable electric device while driving, which can include cell phones, MP3 players, and pagers. Violating this law can result in a traffic infraction, which includes a $200 fine and five points on a driver’s license. Any driver observed violating this law can be required to pull over by a police officer. The only exceptions to this law are operators of emergency vehicles, drivers who are reporting an accident or a crime, and drivers who use hands-free devices.

Despite laws against this behavior, distracted driving accidents have been steadily climbing in recent years, and New York State Troopers have reported that distraction and inattentiveness are the leading causes of injuries in New York auto accidents. The New York Department of Motor Vehicles (NYDMV) has also noted that distracted driving and inattentiveness made up an estimated 19% of all auto accidents within the state.

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Can I File a Claim Against a Distracted Driver?

Given that distracted driving is illegal in New York and is considered an act of negligence, accident victims are well within their rights to file an auto accident claim against the distracted driver who caused their injuries. However, because New York has no-fault insurance laws, drivers of passenger vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians who have auto insurance do not have to prove the other driver was distracted to file a claim for damages. Instead, you can pursue a claim with your own insurance company up to your policy limit to cover the costs of your injuries.

Unfortunately, these laws do not apply to motorcyclists, meaning your only option could be to file a claim against the distracted driver. Even if you are not a motorcyclist and were injured by a distracted driver, you can file a claim outside of your insurance company if you suffered a “serious injury” according to New York State law.

Determining what options you have after a distracted driving accident can be difficult, which is why you should speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. At Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, our legal team has represented clients injured in distracted driving accidents and can fully explain how to seek compensation.

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NYC Car Accident Lawyers Who Advocate for Victims of Negligent Drivers

While multiple government agencies, victim advocacy groups, and non-profits work constantly to reduce the number of distracted driving accidents in New York, these tragic collisions still occur almost every day. It is common for victims to feel confused and stressed about how to deal with the aftermath of the crash. You may need extensive medical treatment and time away from work to fully heal, and even then, you may have a lifelong disability to deal with.

There is no justification for your injuries. Drivers should be fully aware of the dangers of distracted driving and held accountable for their actions. In addition, you and your family should be properly compensated if you were injured in a distracted driving accident. That is where our New York auto accident lawyers at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP, come in. With our more than 50 years of experience, we can provide the strong legal representation you need after a collision. To discuss your options in a free consultation, call our office at (212) 986-7353.

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Additional Information

Our Car Accident Case Results

$8.3 Million - New York State Record-Setting Verdict for Single Level Cervical Discectomy

Pursuant to the New York Jury Verdict Reporter, WRSMH attorney Frank J. Lombardo obtained the highest recorded verdict in the State of New York for a single level cervical discectomy.

Frank Lombardo

$6.2 Million - Intersection Accident

WRSMH attorney was able to obtain a jury verdict in the amount of $6.2 million on behalf of our client, a 60-year-old Brooklyn woman involved in a motor vehicle accident.


$5.5 Million - New York Motor Vehicle Accident

WRSMH attorney Bryce Moses obtained a verdict in the amount of $5,500,000 for our client who was exiting the Staten Island Expressway when her motor vehicle was struck by a Con Edison van.

Bryce Moses

$4.5 Million - Two Passengers Injured in Rear-end Accident

Jay Wechsler obtained an excellent result at the early stages of a case for two clients who were injured in a rear-end accident.

Jay Wechsler

$3.4 Million - Two Backseat Passengers Suffered Severe Injuries in Rear-End Accident

Konstantin Burshteyn successfully represented two backseat passengers who suffered injuries in a rear-end accident.

Konstantin Burshteyn

$3.3 Million - Client Struck By Van While On a Scooter

Attorney Jason Rubin obtained a large settlement for a man who was injured after being struck by a van while on a scooter.

Jason Rubin

$3 Million - NY Motor Vehicle Accident

Cliff Shapiro and another WRSMH attorney were able to obtain a settlement in the amount of $3,000,000 on behalf of a forty-five year old man from Queens who suffered injuries to his neck and lower back in a crash.

Clifford Shapiro

$2.9 Million - NY Access-A-Ride Van Accident

WRSMH settled the case of our client who was hit by an Access-A-Ride van after mediation and before trial for $2.9 million dollars.


$2.8 Million - Three Car Auto Accident in NY

WRSMH attorney obtained a $2.8 million settlement during trial for our client who was involved in a three car accident. The plaintiff was struck twice from behind in a rear-end collision involving two vehicles.


$2.766 Million - Passenger Injured in Sideswipe

Konstantin Burshteyn represented a client, a passenger in a vehicle, who sustained multiple injuries in a sideswipe accident.

Konstantin Burshteyn

$2.75 Million - Rear-end Van Accident in Queens

Douglas Milch obtained a large settlement for a group of individuals injured in a van accident in Queens on the Grand Central Parkway.

Douglas Milch

$2.75 Million - NY Intersection Car Accident

Phil Russotti and Kenneth Halperin obtained a settlement for our client in the amount of $2,750,000, in this case in which the plaintiff's motor vehicle was struck in the rear.

Philip Russotti, Kenneth Halperin

$2.5 Million - Queens County Resident's Vehicle Hit by Rental Truck

Douglas Milch obtained a large settlement for a Queens County resident who was injured in a collision with a rental truck.

Douglas Milch

$2.5 Million - New York Motor Vehicle Accident

Kenneth Halperin obtained a combined settlement in the amount of $2,500,000 for a 66 year old woman and her 32 year old daughter who were injured in a motor vehicle accident.

Kenneth Halperin

$2.3 Million - Sideswipe Accident Causes Serious Injury

Michael Fitzpatrick obtained a large settlement for an immigrant, who was a passenger in a vehicle that was sideswiped in a Brooklyn.

Michael Fitzpatrick

$2.25 Million - Permanent Injuries from Rear-end Accident In The Bronx

WRSMH attorney recently settled a case for a client who sustained permanent neck and back injuries after being rear-ended in the Bronx.


$2.25 Million - Rear-End Motor Vehicle Collision

Our client sustained multiple injuries as the result of a rear-end motor vehicle collision.

Stephen Wagner

$2.25 Million - Passenger Injured in Rear-End Accident

Konstantin Burshteyn successfully represented a client who sustained multiple injuries as a passenger in a rear-end accident.

Konstantin Burshteyn

$2 Million - New York Rear-End Collision

Kenneth Halperin and another WRSMH attorney were able to obtain a settlement in the amount of $2,000,000 on behalf of our client, a 45-year-old man from Queens County.

Kenneth Halperin

$2 Million - Intersection Accident in Brooklyn

WRSMH was able to obtain a recovery after trial in the amount of $2,000,000 on behalf of our client, a 60-year-old housekeeper from Kings County.


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