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Driven to Distraction: Are you intexicated?

Texting while driving is a serious danger not only to the driver but to others using the roadways. New York State now bans texting while driving.

Governor Cuomo issued an administrative order that penalizes drivers with five points on their license if convicted of texting while operating a motor vehicle. It takes 11 points in an 18-months to result in the suspension of an individual’s driver’s license. Almost every American owns a cellphone, distracted driving has become a serious threat to the nation’s roads. Studies have shown that drivers using phones are four times as likely to cause a crash then other drivers. Nevertheless, Americans continue to ignore this data. Cell phone and auto companies are aware of the risks, but continue to develop and market gadgets that distract a driver’s attention. Tougher penalties for texting or talking while driving are being enforced. These new stricter penalties are due to the number of texting while driving tickets which have soared from about 3,500 in 2011 to an astonishing 30,000 in 2012.

Probationary and junior drivers, under the new proposal, would be suspended for 60 days after their first conviction if found texting while driving. Under current law, probationary and junior licenses are suspended for 60 days for such violations as speeding, reckless driving, or following too closely behind another vehicle. Such licenses are revoked for six months, for probationary licenses, or 60 days, for junior license, if there is another violation within six months of the license being restored. The penalties the Governor ordered will impose the same penalties on drivers with probationary and junior licenses for texting while driving that they now receive for speeding and reckless driving 60 day suspensions for first conviction and revocations of 60 days, for junior licenses, or six months, for probationary license, for subsequent convictions within six months of the time a license is restored after suspension.

There will also be an increase in the fines for texting while driving. An increase from $100 to $150 for a first offense and up to $400 for multiple offenses. A report in 2009 from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road for about 4.6 seconds which is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field, while blind. Texting and driving has bypassed drunken driving as a risk on the roads. There were 25,165 fatal and personal injury crashes involving distracted driving in New York being compared to the 4,628 caused by alcohol related incidents.

Amongst the younger generations there is a sense of invincibility that is only heightened when they text and drive. As cell phones become more popular, texting while driving will continue to remain a principal cause for car accidents among teens. A driver’s attention should be focused on the roadway not on the next text.

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