Text Messaging Ban

June 17, 2009
Albany – Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (Brooklyn-51 AD) today acclaimed the passage of Assembly Bill (A8568-B). This bill sponsored by the Chairman of the Transportation Committee, Assemblyman David Gantt, contained many elements of Ortiz’ bill to ban texting while driving (A2453).

Assemblyman Ortiz has been a longtime proponent of this legislation and he along with Assemblyman Mark Schroeder (D- Buffalo), have held many press conferences and lobbied extensively for the passage of this bill.

Ortiz has been out in front on this issue previously, passing a ban on using cell phones while driving in 2001 and proposing this legislation in 2007. “When I introduced my bill to ban cell phone use in cars in 1996 we did not imagine that text messaging would become an issue; today legislation has finally caught up with technology,” a delighted Ortiz said.

“This is a major step to making our roads safer and protecting all drivers. I have no doubt this measure will prevent future tragedies from occurring,” said Assemblyman Mark Schroeder. “New York State is now sending a clear message to all motorists - texting and driving don't mix.”

This common sense legislation will make our roads safer which should prevent the number of fatal accidents which we have observed in Rochester, Buffalo and most recently in Eden. In the past few years several New York State counties passed similar local bans. All local laws currently enforced shall be replaced by this state-wide legislation should it pass the Senate and become law.

Assemblyman Ortiz thanked everybody who helped to make this bill become a reality specifically Kelly Cline, a parent advocate from Buffalo whose son A.J. Larson was killed in an accident in December 2007 attributable to texting while driving. “Ms Cline has been very brave in highlighting this issue and without her hard work and advocacy this bill would probably be still stuck in committee,” Ortiz said. He continued by thanking Assemblyman Gantt for making this topic a priority and for following his leadership on the matter.

Ms. Cline declared herself “absolutely thrilled to see this bill passed. It is amazing to see politics work the way it is supposed to, as so many people came together on this important issue. I want to thank Assemblyman Ortiz and Assemblyman Schroeder for their amazing efforts in ensuring that this issue was not ignored.”

Ortiz’ bill, which was sponsored by Senator Carl Marcellino, passed the Senate unanimously last year indicating the need for this specific legislation. The bill also has widespread support with 78% of people polled approving of it.

“This legislation removes the patchwork legislation governing text messaging while driving and creates one law for every driver in the State of New York. At last we have said ‘Enough is Enough’ and banned text messaging while driving,” Ortiz said.