Motorists report that they just can’t resist the urge to text while in traffic, despite stiffer penalties, including the risk of having licenses suspended. Yet, distracted driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. In fact, the federal government reports the number of people injured nationally in crashes caused by distracted driving jumped 9% between 2011 and 2012, with more than 421,000 cases reported during that period. At the same time, more than 3,300 people were killed both years.
It was also reported that tickets issued for texting while driving jumped by 92% (numbering 2,289) in Suffolk County and 62% (for a total of 1,424) in Nassau County on Long Island* in 2013, where first offense fines can range from $50-$150 dollars (as per NY state law), and a second offsense within 18 months can cost as much as $200. More than that during the same time frame and the fines can go as high as $400 per ticket. Each offense also puts 5 points against operators’ drivers licenses, which can be revoked or suspended if they rack up 11 points during those 18 months. In addition, Governor Cuomo is currently proposing new legislation that would double the suspension period from 6 months to a full year for those 21 and under convicted of testing while operating a motor vehicle.
In the meantime, a separate study involving 715 adults in California found that nearly two thirds of them, ages 30-64 admitted to using cell phones while driving with children in their cars, and one third said they texted while driving. At the same time, a survey conducted by the AAA found that 61% of drivers ages 16-24 admitted to texting while at the wheel.
*Only two of New York State’s 91 designated areas where drivers can pull over to use their mobile devices are along the LI Expressway between exits 51 and 52 in both directions.