Distracted driving has long been a concern for New York lawmakers. In 2001, it became the first state to ban handheld phones use while driving, and in 2009 a law was passed that prohibited texting and driving. Under New York’s current law, using your cellphone while driving is strictly prohibited. Anyone who uses their phone while operating a motor vehicle (other than to call 911 or report an emergency) can be ticketed and ordered to pay a fine.

There is an exception, however, for drivers who make hands-free calls. The law permits use under these circumstances because the general belief is that you are less likely to be distracted by your phone if you aren’t manually entering information into it, such as numbers and text messages. Below is an overview of how you can set up a Bluetooth connection in your car and, ideally, use your device in a way that doesn’t increase your accident risk.

How to enable Bluetooth

Depending on how your car infotainment system is set up, your car will search for your phone, or vice versa. To get both devices set up to recognize each other, turn on their Bluetooth features, which are generally available as an app (phone) and infotainment setting (car system).

The method you will use to pair the devices will depend on the vehicle type. Ford models are usually equipped with the SYNC system, which requires you to input a six-digit number to make the connection. With many GMC models, you can use a voice command and PIN number to pair the phone and infotainment system. Other vehicles, like Mercedes-Benz, have a steering wheel button that activates the pairing menu on the infotainment system.

Once your Bluetooth connection has been successfully activated, you will be able to make and answer calls in hands-free mode. Some cars have steering wheel buttons that activate the calling feature while others use voice commands. Consult your vehicle’s user guide if you aren’t sure how to access calling ability.

What if you are injured?

Although many New Yorkers respect the state’s hands-free cellphone law, others regard it as an inconvenience or attempt to make a quick call or text while hoping that law enforcement is not watching. Unfortunately, this reckless conduct can lead to an accident that leaves other motorists injured or killed.

If this happens to you or someone you love, then contact a New York personal injury attorney. Car crashes are catastrophic events that leave their victims in pain and at a serious disadvantage due to medical bills, lost wages, and temporary or permanent disability. Your attorney will fight to ensure that you receive what you need to rebuild your life while the at-fault party is held accountable.

Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx, NY lawyer with over 36 years of legal experience. He handles car accident cases. You may reach his office at 718-329-9500 to set up a free in-person consultation.