Texting and Driving

New York is among 41 states that ban text messaging for all drivers and is among only 12 that prohibit using hand-held devices, even a GPS has to be hands-free.  This year New York stiffened penalties for motorists caught using hand-held devices to talk or text, increasing penalty points on your driving record from three to five and fines of up to $200.  If you use ear buds for your GPS or music, you must always keep one ear free while driving.

Enforcement is increased as well.  In a two-month crackdown this summer, troopers handed out 5,553 tickets for texting while driving, compared to 924 in the same period last year.  Most of us have wondered if we could get away with texting while driving.  How would they know anyway?  Thirty-two (32) tall and unmarked SUVs help New York State troopers to peer inside your vehicle and see if you are texting while driving.  Troopers are pulling alongside your vehicle to see if you are looking down and whether you have a phone in your hand.  The troopers use CITE vehicles (Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement) for this purpose.

The state also rebranded 91 existing rest areas and turnoffs on the state thruway and other highways as “Texting Zones.”  Signs along the highways read, “It can wait.  Text stop 5 miles.”  There have been other public campaigns designed to address this problem.  Recent television spots have focused on the sender of the text message, urging them not to text others while the recipient is driving.

Do you think these initiatives are having an impact?