Zebrowski: Assembly Passes Legislation to Make New York’s Roads Safer

Bills would expand ‘Move Over’ law, stiffen penalties for texting while driving

Two bills supported by Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski (D-New City) would make Rockland County’s roads safer for motorists and roadside workers alike. The first, which Zebrowski sponsored, would expand the state’s recently enacted “Move Over” law to include all hazard vehicles – a designation that applies to roadside-assistance vehicles, plows, letter carriers and any vehicles engaged in highway maintenance (A.177-B). The second bill would make the use of portable electronics while driving a primary offense, upgrading its current violation status (A.8106). Both measures passed the Assembly.

“New York’s ‘Move Over’ law was crafted to protect law enforcement and emergency workers from the dangers inherent to their roadside work,” Zebrowski said. “But they aren’t the only ones routinely exposed to high-speed traffic. Driver’s of hazard vehicles such as tow trucks and plows share the same risks, and they ought to be protected, too. This bill would offer them the same potentially lifesaving consideration.”

Under Zebrowski’s new bill, motorists would have to slow down and move over when approaching hazard vehicles parked on a state highway or parkway, a requirement that’s currently limited to the presence of emergency vehicles. Violators would face the same possibility of fines and/or jail time, as well as two points on their license.

Zebrowski also sponsored a measure that would stiffen penalties for drivers who use portable electronic devices while behind the wheel, cracking down on a practice that’s been linked to as many as half of the 6 million U.S. crashes reported annually.i Targeted devices include mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), handheld devices with mobile data access, laptops, pagers, two-way message devices and electronic games.

“Fiddling with electronics behind the wheel, whether it’s a phone or a tablet computer, is deadly,” Zebrowski said. “To drive the point home, a new Virginia Tech Transportation Institute studyii found that texting while driving increases a driver’s risk of a collision a staggering twenty-three-fold. It has to stop.”

The new legislation would reclassify the use of portable electronics while driving as a primary offense, empowering law enforcement to stop drivers solely for their distracted driving. That would be a departure from current law, which holds that law enforcement can only issue such tickets if the motorist was pulled over for another violation.

“Together, these common-sense bills would make Rockland’s roads safer for all those who frequent them,” Zebrowski said.

i www.aaapublicaffairs.com/main/Default.asp?CategoryID=3&SubCategoryID=35

ii http://www.vtti.vt.edu/PDF/7-22-09-VTTI-Press_Release_Cell_phones_and_Driver_Distraction.pdf