Governor Cuomo seeks higher penalties for drivers caught texting

Texting While Driving StatisticsGovernor Andrew Cuomo of New York is seeking to crack down on drivers who text while behind the wheel, and to introduce tougher penalties for those who are caught. 

On Friday, June 10, 2011, Cuomo proposed the introduction of a bill that addresses distracted driving.  This new bill would make this type of activity a primary offense, giving officers the right to pull over drivers who are caught typing on their mobile devices while the vehicle is in operation.

 In New York, texting behind the wheel is still considered to be a secondary form of offense.  By this definition, in order to allow an officer to pull the driver over, that driver would also need to be distracted in a second way on top of the texting behavior.

 While some officers have managed to doll out a few tickets, the number has been insignificant when compared to those written for using a hand held mobile phone while behind the wheel.  Though drivers talking on cell phones were issued over 331,000 tickets, those who were texting received only 3,200 tickets. 

According to a statement made by Cuomo, drivers – specifically young adults and adolescents – are routinely operating their vehicles while looking at the screen of a mobile device, instead of the road around them.  He explained that the state must “impose a true deterrent to stop people from driving while using an electronic device and to keep our roads and citizens safe.” 

Within Cuomo’s proposal would be a change to the penalties for texting while driving.  Though the amount of the fine would remain at a maximum of $150, those caught texting behind the wheel could also receive up to three points on their driver’s record, instead of the current two points.  This makes the violation the equivalent to actions such as running a stop sign, and may cause offending drivers to experience a hike in their auto insurance payments.

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