Text Messaging by Drivers Poses a Serious Threat to the Safety of Everyone Who Uses the Roads
Distracted driving is a major problem in NY. It may pose a greater risk to public safety than driving while drunk. According to Gov. Cuomo’s Office, in 2011 there were more than 25,000 fatal and personal injury crashes because of distracted driving, compared to less than 5,000 such crashes caused by alcohol-related driving.
Drivers can be distracted by many things, such as eating, reading maps, using a navigation system, adjusting the radio, or using a cell phone. In particular, text messaging by drivers poses a serious threat to the safety of everyone who uses the roads.
Text messaging is one of the most dangerous habits of distracted drivers because it requires different aspects of a driver’s attention:
- Visual attention: The driver must take his or her eyes off the road to read a text.
- Manual attention: The driver must take his or her hands off the wheel in order to send a text.
- Cognitive attention: The driver’s mind necessarily wanders while texting.
Text messaging distracts the driver from what should be his or her primary task of driving safely. According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, sending or receiving a text requires a driver’s eyes to shift focus away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. To put this in perspective, if the vehicle is traveling at 55 miles per hour, a texting driver is effectively closing his or her eyes while driving the length of a football field.
New York Cracking Down on Driving While Texting
NY is one of 41 states that currently ban driving while texting. Recently, the crackdown on driving while texting in NY has involved a number of initiatives:
- Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo directed the DMV to toughen penalties for texting and driving, increasing fines for the use of handheld electronic devices while driving.
- NY imposed new penalties for young drivers who text while driving, increasing the periods of license suspension for young and new drivers convicted of distracted driving.
- The state has budgeted $1 million to fund a campaign warning against the use of cell phones while driving.
- NY state troopers began using Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement (CITE) vehicles to crack down on drivers who use cell phones. The CITE vehicles are unmarked and raised higher off the ground, allowing troopers to remain hidden while looking down into other cars.
- Last year, NY state troopers issued more than 30,000 tickets for driving while texting.
Texting Zones: A New Initiative to Prevent Driving While Texting
NY has an inventive new strategy to prevent driving while texting. The campaign against distracted driving in NY now includes dedicated “texting zones.”
Almost 300 signs directing drivers to “text stops” will be placed along major state highways. The bright blue signs will include messages such as “It can wait: text stop in 5 miles.” The signs will direct drivers to 91 special “texting zones” at various stops along the highways.
The text-stop signs will enhance public awareness of the dangers of driving while texting and alert drivers to the possibility of being ticketed for driving while texting, while the texting zones will provide an accommodation for drivers who might otherwise be distracted by their handheld devices while driving. Not unlike highway rest stops, the texting zones will function as sites for potentially distracted drivers to pull over and take a break from driving.
If you have been ticketing for driving while texting, contact the Law Offices of Mark J. Sacco, LLC online or call 518-759-0129.