By Phil Newman
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced that more than 20,000 tickets — 3,334 in Queens — were issued in New York state since the law against texting by motorists took effect a year ago.
The law makes using a handheld electronic device for activities such as texting while driving a primary traffic offense and giving law enforcement officials the power to halt motorists solely for engaging in this activity.
The penalty for using a handheld device while driving was increased from two to three points on a license.
In the previous year, 4,569 tickets for the same offense were issued statewide.
The report said 3,234 tickets were issued in Brooklyn, 3,714 in Manhattan, 205 in Staten Island, 900 in the Bronx, 505 in Nassau County, 908 in Suffolk County and 720 in Westchester County.
“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 agencies for their dedication to ensuring the safety of the people of the state of New York.”
The governor’s office said recent research has shown that motorists who use handheld devices while driving are four times more likely to be involved in a crash. The office said the behavior of such drivers can be equivalent to that of drunk drivers at the threshold of the legal limit of .08 blood alcohol concentration.
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.
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 718-260-4536.