New York Drivers Will Get Points for Talking on Cell Phones

February 15, 2011

Beginning tomorrow, New York drivers who are caught talking on their cell phones without a headset will gain two points on their driving records — which means higher insurance costs.

The New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced the change this week. Previously, no points were assigned for talking on a cell phone although two points are assigned for texting while driving violations. The new regulation will align the point penalty for both violations.

“Distracted driving is one of the most serious dangers on our roadways today,” said J. David Sampson, DMV executive deputy commissioner. “By strengthening the current law, our hope is that motorists will become even more aware of the potential consequences of their actions if they use a cell phone while driving.”

Ten years ago, New York became the first in the nation to adopt a statewide ban on handheld cell phone use while driving in 2001. In 2009, a law eliminating the use of portable electronic devices for texting while driving took effect, a violation that currently has two points attached to it along with a $150 fine.

In New York, driver distraction is a contributing factor in at least one out of five crashes, officials say. Each year over 300,000 tickets are issued statewide for cell phone violations.

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