Weisenberg Bill Signed by Governor Cuomo

Texting while driving becomes a primary offense
July 12, 2011
Today, Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D–Long Beach) joined Governor Cuomo, state and local law enforcement and AAA New York in hailing the enactment of his legislation (A.8106) to make the use of portable electronic devices while driving a primary offense.

“The distraction of just one text message while driving can bring devastating and tragic consequences,” Weisenberg said. “Our previous law did not go far enough to protect other drivers, passengers and pedestrians from these unnecessary traffic accidents.”

Under the previous law, texting while driving was only considered to be a secondary offense, which means a driver had to be doing something else wrong in order to get pulled over by a police officer.

Devices that are prohibited under the new law include cell phones, personal digital assistants, handheld devices with mobile data access, laptops, pagers, two-way messaging devices and electronic games. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, a 2010 government study found that texting while driving caused 16,000 deaths from 2001 to 2007. In addition, texting-while-driving fatalities increased 28 percent from 2005 to 2008.i In fact, a recent study from the University of Utah concluded that it’s more dangerous to be texting than it is to be drunk while driving.

“As a former police officer, I’ve seen the devastation caused by distracted drivers,” Weisenberg said. “Today, we are giving law enforcement the tools they need to keep our roads safe and prevent future accidents. These changes will save lives. I’d like to thank Governor Cuomo for supporting this law and I look forward to our continued work together.”

i “Texting Taking a Deadly Toll on Roads,” Bloomberg Businessweek, Sept. 23, 2010, www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/healthday/643505.html.