New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday marked the one year anniversary of the state’s strict law to prevent distracted driving.The governor said that law enforcement officials issued 20,958 tickets to motorists for texting-while-driving violations since the law took effect on July 12, 2011 — which is four times as many than the previous year.
The law put in place by state lawmakers 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,” Gov. 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.”
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 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.