News10NBC Investigates: Data shows distracted driving crashes up, cellphone tickets down

Berkeley Brean
Created: November 07, 2019 06:17 PM

(WHEC) — We have some sobering news to think about when you get into your car to drive to work tomorrow. In that last 10 years, the number of crashes in New York involving distracted driving, including texting, has gone up 86%.

The strange thing is that over the same period of time the number of tickets for distracted driving went going down.


News10NBC wanted to figure out why. So we contacted police and the law firm that put this data together. 

Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "What story do you think those numbers tell us?"

Adam H. Rosenblum, Principal of Rosenblum Law & "So I think the most compelling story, from my perspective, is that of distracted driving."

Adam Rosenblum is the principal of Rosenblum Law and the website 

The firm analyzed data from police reports and the state DMV. Rosenblum says what it shows is the number of distracted driving crashes in New York State went from 650 in 2009 when texting while driving became illegal, to more than 1,212 last year. 

Over the same decade, the number of tickets for cell phone use dropped by more than 100,000.

Brean: "So we're seeing an increase in the number of crashes involving distracted driving but a decrease in the number of tickets law enforcement are giving drivers."

Rosenblum: "Exactly."

Rosenblum doesn't know why exactly. 

So I contacted the State Police and the statewide police chief and sheriff's associations. 

The State Police told me the biggest reason for the drop is technology means people aren't holding onto their phones when they talk. 

Tickets for section 1225-c -- talking on the phone -- are down 75%, (2009: 342,609 tickets, 2018: 86,343 tickets)

Tickets for section 1225-d -- texting -- up almost 99%, from 181 in 2009 to more than 111,250 last year. 

But get this: The data from the law firm shows, as a percentage, more middle-aged and older men and women get caught texting than young drivers.

Rosenblum: "There is some optimism here that perhaps a lot of the education being provided... and that may be making an impact in terms of their awareness of the problem."

I just compared the Monroe County Health Department's survey of young people called the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. In 2011, 36% of teenagers admitted they texted while driving. This year, it was down to 30%.

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