Assembly Toughens Law on Texting While Driving

Bill creates safer roads by making texting – and using other electronic devices – while driving a primary offense
June 21, 2011

Charles D. Lavine (D-Glen Cove) announced the Assembly passed legislation he supported that would make the use of portable electronic devices while driving a primary offense (A.8106). Such devices include mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), handheld devices with mobile data access, laptops, pagers, two-way messaging devices and electronic games.

Currently, texting while driving and using portable electronic devices is considered a secondary violation, meaning law enforcement can only issue a ticket if the motorist was pulled over for another violation. The new measure would allow officers to stop a driver solely for using an electronic device.

“Texting and playing with any electronics while driving is extremely dangerous, and too many New York drivers do it,” Assemblyman Lavine said. “It not only puts the driver who is distracted at risk, but everyone else on the road. By strengthening these laws, police officers can keep our roads safer by cracking down on distracted drivers.”

Distracted driving is a major contributor to automobile crashes, texting being the most common offense of all. Between 4,000 and 8,000 crashes related to distracted driving occur every day in the United States. In a year, they contribute to as many as half of the 6 million U.S. crashes reported annually.i And looking away from the road for two or more seconds doubles the risk of a crash. ii In fact, a new study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute shows that when drivers text, their collision risk is 23 times greater than when not texting.

“The figures on this problem are alarming,” Assemblyman Lavine said. “According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, this epidemic is especially common among younger, less experienced drivers. Texting while driving causes accidents and takes lives. No text is more important than your life or the life of another driver. This legislation is another step toward safer roads.”