Nab Over 20,000 Drivers Texting Behind the Wheel

Five-Fold Increase In Tickets Issued

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo marked the one year anniversary of the state’s strict law to prevent distracted driving by announcing last Thursday, July 12 that law enforcement officials issued more than 20,000 tickets to motorists for texting-while-driving violations since the law took effect, four times as many than the previous year.

The law put in place by the legislature and signed by the governor last year makes using a handheld electronic device for activities such as texting-while-driving a primary traffic offense, giving law enforcement the power to stop motorists solely for engaging in this activity. Additionally, the penalty for using a handheld device while driving was increased from two to three points.

In the year before the law was passed, New York law enforcement officials issued 4,569 tickets for texting while-driving violations.

“The major increase in tickets issued for texting-while-driving violations since this law went into effect demonstrates its usefulness in helping our law enforcement authorities crack down hard on distracted driving,” Cuomo said. “Using a handheld device while driving puts other motorists in danger and can lead to tragic consequences. These tickets should send a resounding message to all drivers: keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. I thank the state police and local law enforcement for their dedication to ensuring the safety of the people of the state of New York.”

Locally, 3,234 tickets for texting while driving were issued in Brooklyn between July 12, 2011 and July 12 of this year; during the previous year, just 540 summonses were administered.

Drivers in Queens received 3,334 tickets for the offense between July 12, 2011 and July 12 of this year; in the previous year, just 401 tickets were given.

Recent research has shown that motorists who use handheld electronic devices while driving are four times more likely to be involved in a crash. The behavior of such drivers can be equivalent to the behavior of drunk drivers at the threshold of the legal limit of .08 blood alcohol content (BAC).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributed more than 3,000 deaths last year to distracted driving, calling it a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways.

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