We previously wrote about cell phone and texting while driving showing how dangerous it is and resulted in auto accidents. Initially when the law first passed, the police could not write a ticket for cell phone or texting violations without another traffic offense. The New York Legislature, with a very big push from Governor Mario Cuomo, changed the laws and made cell phone and texting while driving a primary offense allowing police to enforce the law with tickets.

In an article in The Journal News on Monday, April 13, 2015, Joseph Spector and HOA Nguyen headlined the paper with an article entitled “u r busted!”. The number of texting while driving tickets increased 35% between 2013 & 2014. The highest increase in texting tickets
was Westchester County where texting tickets surged 50% over the last 2 years. For the rest of New York State, the increase was 15%. Rockland County increased 35%, Putnam County 38% and police gave out more than 75,000 tickets for texting while driving, up from 56,000 in 2013.

New York State has adopted some of the toughest texting laws in the nation. Drivers caught either talking on their cell or texting receive 5 points on their license and a maximum fine of $200 plus State surcharge for the first offense. When the law was first enacted in 2009, police gave out warnings but this did not slow down the cell phone and texting use. The article points out “with each passing year, we are more likely to give a summons than a warning” according to Westchester County police and the police are utilizing more techniques to catch cell phone and texting violators. Officers now often ride in higher profile vehicles (SUV’S) that allow them to peer inside a vehicle and see if drivers are texting or using their cell phones.

For young drivers under 21 years of age with junior licenses, first offense convictions of texting or talking on a cell phone while driving can lead to 120 day license or permit suspension. New York State has also set up texting zones at rest stops to encourage people to stop at these rest stops to use their cell phone for texting.

Governor Cuomo states “this reckless behavior endangers everyone on the road and has resulted in far too much needless tragedy”. Governor Cuomo pressed for the new laws and stated ” I thank law enforcement agencies across the State for the continued vigilance and for making it crystal clear that texting while driving will not be tolerated in New York”. Police have stepped up enforcement and education about distracted driving which cell phone use and texting creates. Distracted driving leads the nation as the top cause for traffic accidents.

On Thursday, April 9, 2015, Governor Cuomo announced a statewide crackdown on distracted driving as part of April’s designation of “A National Distracted Driving Awareness Month”. State police will aggressively ticket drivers using hand held devices while behind the wheel. In New York, from 2005 – 2011, there was a 143% increase in cell phone related crashes compared to 18% decrease in alcohol related crashes. According to the Governor’s office, in 2011 there were 25,165 fatal and personal injury crashes involving distracted drivers compared to 4,628 accidents from alcohol related driving. The Executive Director for the Governor’s Highway Safety Association said “New York has developed a national model on way to crack down on texting while driving and tough laws. As part of the new law that took effect last November, 2014, young drivers will face a one year license or permit revocation for those who commit a second violation within six months of their license or permits restoration. A second offense for all drivers committed within 18 months of the first offense will lead to a fine of $250 and a third violation or more within 18 months will lead to a fine to $400 – $450.

In New York City, texting behind the wheel has been part of Mayor Bill deBlasios Vision Zero campaign to make roads safer in New York City. Texting tickets increased from 32,000 in 2013 to 48,000 in 2014. In Dutchess County, texting tickets increased 10%, In Ontario County tickets soared 71% from 185 to 316 tickets over the two years. Police state officers now go specifically on patrol usually in unmarked SUV’s to catch texters behind the wheel. All of this occurs to stop the number one problem on the road today which are crashes caused by distracted drivers.

If you, or someone you know, have been injured as a result of cell phone use, texting or distracted drivers, please contact the Law Office of Dominick J. Robustelli & Associates, PLLC. You can reach us at (914) 288-0800.

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