New York State Cracks Down on Texting While Driving
Make no mistake. Texting Kills. The tragic death of Casey Feldman at the hands of a distracted driver in 2009 led to the creation of EndDD.org – End Distracted Driving an organization dedicated to the prevention of needless tragedies such as the one that took Casey Feldman’s life.
In July 2011, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that made the use of an electronic hand-held device while driving a primary traffic offense. Before that, it could not be the only reason a police officer stopped a vehicle. The change in the law represents increased vigilance by the state to reduce New York texting while driving car accidents.
New York law enforcement welcomed the change. The law allows police to more easily stop careless drivers and keep those drivers from endangering others on Westchester and Rockland County roads.
New York police liked the new law so much that from July 12, 2011 to February 7, 2012 they issued 7,495 tickets for texting while driving (up from only 3,248 tickets issued in all of 2010 for texting while driving). A total of 111,262 tickets were issued for use of handheld electronic devices while driving during that same seven month period.
Increased Citations Send Strong Message
Of the increase in citations, Gov. Cuomo said, “These tickets should send a resounding message to all drivers: keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.” The Governor’s bluntness is not without justification: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than 5,400 people were killed (and 448,000 injured) in distracted driving accidents in 2009.
Many consider texting while driving to be as dangerous as drunk driving. The U.S. Department of Transportation claims that texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a traffic accident. This is because reading even a short text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, a vehicle would travel nearly the length of a football field in that period of time. Imagine the damage a driver could cause traveling that far with their eyes closed.
Texting while driving is dangerous for everyone on the road. New York is working hard to prevent drivers from using cell phones where they distract focus away from the road in any way. After all, the lives of men, women and children are ultimately at stake.