Under New York law, it is illegal to hold a portable electronic device such as a mobile phone or laptop computer while driving. This means that you may not talk on a handheld mobile phone, text, read email, surf web pages, play games or transmit images. A portable electronic device is any hand-held mobile phone or laptop computer, or personal digital device.
There are exceptions to the law. You may use a hands-free mobile telephone or an electronic device that is affixed to the surface of your vehicle. It is permissible to use your device in an emergency to call the police, fire department, hospital or doctor’s office or an ambulance. Drivers of authorized emergency vehicles in the performance of official duties are also exempt under the law.
PENALTIES AND FINES
For violating the law, you could receive a fine up to $150 and 5 driver violation points for offenses committed after June 1, 2013. Prior to that, it was up to a $150 fine and 3 driver violation points. Effective, July 26, 2013 fines are increasing between $50 to $150 for a first offense, $50.00 to $200 for a second offense and $50 to $400 for a third or more offense within an 18 month period. Commercial drivers are prohibited from making any phone calls using a hand held device or other electronic device while stationery as well.
NHTSA REPORTS ON DRIVER INATTENTION
According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report in April 2006 entitled The Impact of Driver Inattention On Near-Crash/Crash Risk: An Analysis Using the 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study Data, 80% of the time driver inattention was the primary factor in automobile accidents and 65% in near crashes. The report also revealed that talking, listening or dialing using a hand held device was the primary cause of crashes the past few years, but that eating and applying makeup were also included as part of the driver distractions.