A Chinese restaurant deliveryman on a motorized scooter run over by a driver who was allegedly texting while driving late Sunday, September 12, has been pronounced brain dead. The 19-year-old teenager, Nechama Rothberger was charged with a misdemeanor count of reckless driving and a violation for driving while using a mobile phone when she ran into Tian Sheng Lin, 53, a father of three.
Our laws against the use of cell phones, especially texting, are just too weak and unenforceable.
Under the current law, drivers cannot be stopped and issued a summons just for using a cell phone alone – police officers can only pull a driver over if they observe the driver committing a primary traffic violation.
Assemblymember Grace Meng has called for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes to impose a more serious charge than "reckless driving" on Rothberger.
Governor David A. Paterson has introduced a bill which would make New York State’s law against using a cell phone or texting while driving a primary offense.
“This bill will take the handcuffs off our law enforcement officers and make our highways safer by allowing officers to observe a violation and immediately issue a summons,” Paterson said. “There is nothing more important than the safety of all New Yorkers, and by increasing the offense level of the current law, law enforcement officers will be better able to protect them and save lives.”
The Assembly did its job and passed Paterson’s proposed texting bill, only to allow our dysfunctional State Senate to drop the ball as they played silly political budget games last session.
Wake up Albany – according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 16 percent of fatal accidents in 2008 were the result of distracted driving. A sobering Nationwide Insurance study found that about 20 percent of all drivers, and 66 percent of those aged 18 to 24, are sending or receiving text messages behind the wheel.
Scarier studies like one by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that truck drivers who were text messaging were 23 times more at risk of a crash or near crash.
Make this law a primary offense and enable the police to keep us all safer on the roads.