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Cell phone bans save motorcyclists' lives

Fewer distracted drivers on the road makes transportation safer for everyone, but for motorcyclists the reduction in cell phone use behind the wheel is lifesaving.

A study conducted by faculty at Florida Atlantic University and the University of Miami found that laws banning or restricting the use of cell phones or other handheld devices have made a significant impact in lowering motorcyclists' deaths. States with bans, regardless of their severity, have 11 percent fewer motorcycle fatalities as states with no bans.

Motorcyclists are more likely to be a victim of a traffic fatality. Even as vehicle safety has improved and driven down the overall traffic fatality rate, motorcycle deaths remained stagnant. The implementation of distracted driving laws has made a larger difference.

New York's distracted driving laws

New York has one of the stricter set of distracted driving laws. The state prohibits everyone behind the wheel from using a "portable electronic device" while the vehicle is moving, which includes:

  • Handheld phone calls
  • Texting or emailing
  • Browsing the Internet
  • Taking photos
  • Playing games

Phone calls are permitted if the driver doesn't have to use either hand, and electronics  use is acceptable if the device is affixed to the vehicle in some way. Emergency communications are also permitted.

Distracted driving laws are primary laws in New York, which means police can stop drivers for using electronics and no other reason. This violation costs drivers five driver points and can come with the following fines:

  • First offense: $200
  • Second offense within 18 months: $250
  • Third or subsequent offense within 18 months: $450

However, even with strict laws and penalties, some drivers still try to get away with cell phone use behind the wheel, which can be very serious for motorcyclists. Riders and their families can seek compensation for accident injuries that occur due to another driver's digital negligence.

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