Rochester Auto Accident Lawyer Warns Drivers to Put Away Phones and Focus on the Road During Thanksgiving Travel

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Drivers who violate a ban on using handheld devices behind the wheel could also face civil liability if accidents occur, says attorney Scott Gottlieb of the Law Offices of Scott C. Gottlieb & Associates, LLP.

[S]tudies are consistently showing that cell phone use and other distractions clearly prevent a driver from focusing on the roads – and the consequences can be devastating.

As the holiday season gets into full swing this Thanksgiving week, motorists need to remember that New York’s laws on texting behind the wheel are tougher than ever, Rochester auto accident attorney Scott Gottlieb warned today.

According to a recent report by the Syracuse Post-Standard, an estimated 38.2 million people are expected to travel between November 23-27 to spend the holiday with family and friends, marking a 4 percent rise from a year ago. The newspaper also stated that, in 2010, 3.1 million vehicles used the 111.4 miles of the New York Thruway during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Gottlieb said that he is concerned that many of those travelers will be tempted to use cell phones and texting devices while behind the wheel, which could endanger themselves and others on the road.

“New York has a new law that tightens the penalty for people who drive while using handheld devices, and I’m confident that it will help to save lives during the coming holidays and beyond,” said Gottlieb, who represents clients in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits involving car accidents caused by distracted driving in Rochester and throughout New York.

The new law, which went into effect in July, upgraded the use of any handheld device while driving to a primary traffic offense in New York, according to a press release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. It was previously a secondary offense, which meant law enforcement officers were unable to stop drivers for using handheld devices unless they observed them violating another law as well.

Under the new law, drivers can be ticketed solely for using cell phones and any other electronic handheld devices behind the wheel. The penalty includes three points on the offender’s driving record and fines of up to $150.

“People don’t often realize how impaired they truly are when they are texting while driving,” said Gottlieb. “But studies are consistently showing that cell phone use and other distractions clearly prevent a driver from focusing on the roads – and the consequences can be devastating.”

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have found that driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent. In addition, a 2009 study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reported that drivers of passenger vehicles were six times more likely to get into a crash if they were texting while driving.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 16 percent of fatal accidents in 2009 were due to distracted driving, and 20 percent of people were injured in wrecks were distracted driving was reported as a contributing factor.

“Sadly, many of those killed and injured are teenagers,” noted Gottlieb, citing additional federal statistics showing that younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 have the highest proportion of fatal crashes related to distracted driving.

“That’s particularly concerning during the holidays because teens have more free time to socialize, and texting is a commonplace activity among adolescents.

“The message is simple: Don’t text while driving,” he said.

New York drivers who are stopped for violating the new law could face criminal charges. But they could also face a civil lawsuit if their behavior resulted in an accident that caused property damage, injuries and, in the worst cases, death.

“People who have been harmed by motorists who text while driving are able to receive compensation to help with medical bills and other expenses incurred as a result of their crash,” Gottlieb said. “A good lawyer can help victims get what they deserve.”

About Scott C. Gottlieb & Associates, LLP

The Law Offices of Scott C. Gottlieb & Associates, LLP, handle all types of personal injury and motor vehicle accident cases, including cases involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles and boats. The firm also represents clients in actions for wrongful death, cancer misdiagnosis, dog bites, hunting accidents, birth injuries, brain injuries, construction accidents, fall down injuries and insurance settlements. The firm regularly employs accident reconstruction experts, investigators, photographers and economists to assist in evaluating and preparing personal injury cases. In 2008, the firm reached the $100-million mark in combined lifetime verdicts and settlements. Scott C. Gottlieb & Associates features offices in Binghamton, Elmira, Rochester, Syracuse and Watertown. For more information, call (800) TALK-LAW or use the firm’s online contact form.



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