New York Unveils Plan for ‘Texting Zones’ for Distracted Motorists

September 27, 2013

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week continued the state’s efforts to reduce distracted driving by unveiling special “Texting Zones” along the New York State thruway and state highways that will give motorists a pull-off area to park and use their mobile devices.

Existing Park-n-Ride facilities, rest stops, and parking areas along the thruway and highways will dual-function as Texting Zones, and signage will be placed along the highway to inform drivers where the zones are located. A total of 298 signs will be located along major highways across the state, notifying motorists to 91 Texting Zone locations.

In addition, the governor this week announced a 365 percent increase in tickets issued in summer 2013 compared to summer 2012 for distracted driving — a result of an extensive enforcement crackdown by the state police.

This summer, state police issued 21,580 tickets, surpassing last summer’s total of 5,208 tickets. The summer crackdown, which started on the July 4th holiday weekend and lasted through the Labor Day weekend, consisted of increased enforcement and patrols, particularly through undercover operations using unmarked State Police SUVs to catch distracted drivers.

“New York State is continuing to use every tool at its disposal to combat texting-while-driving,” Cuomo said. “In addition to tougher penalties, new detection methods for state police and ongoing public outreach efforts, we are now launching special Texting Zones to allow motorists to pull over and use their phones.”

“These Zones will be identified with signs along the Thruway and State Highways, reminding drivers that there is a nearby opportunity for them to legally and safely use their phone,” Cuomo said. “With this new effort, we are sending a clear message to drivers that there is no excuse to take your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road because your text can wait until the next Texting Zone.”

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