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New York Legislation Proposes Severe Penalties for Distracted Driving

June 14, 2011

ALBANY, NY – New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo has introduced new legislation designed to impose a severe penalty on drivers using any kind of portable electronic device while driving. Although the state already has a ban on texting while driving, if this legislation passes, if police cite a driver, the violation would add three points to the driver’s license.

The legislation would also make using any portable electronic device while driving a primary rather than a secondary offense. Current law in New York makes using a portable electronic device while driving a secondary offense, which means the driver must have committed a primary enforcement offense such as speeding, disobeying a traffic signal or another violation.

The legislation would also require that distracted driving be included as part of the state's defensive driving curriculum.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that 16 percent of fatal accidents in 2009 were due to distracted driving, and that 20 percent of people injured during a crash were involved in a crash where distracted driving was reported.

A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that truck drivers who were texting were 23 times more at risk of a crash or near crash. Another study compared reaction times when a driver was texting to when a driver was intoxicated and found that driver reaction time while texting was worse.

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