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Penalties For Texting While Driving Go Up In Westchester Saturday

Penalties for texting-while-driving have increased in Westchester.
Penalties for texting-while-driving have increased in Westchester. Photo Credit: Intel Free Press

WESTCHESTER, N.Y. – New York State’s penalties for texting-while-driving increase today, June 1, from three points to five points for all convicted fully-licensed drivers.

Drivers who have probationary and junior licenses will get a five-point penalty, plus a 60-day license suspension for the first conviction and license revocation for up to six months for a second conviction.

Until today, getting caught texting while driving cost all drivers three points, and there were no suspension or revocation penalties.

As many as 43 percent of teen and young drivers admit to texting while driving, studies have shown.

“Inattention and inexperience is a deadly combination,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo. “We are urging young and inexperienced drivers to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.”

Cuomo has directed the New York State Police to increase enforcement of the texting-while-driving ban during the summer, beginning right now. There will be more checkpoints and more troopers patrolling the roads.

“No parent should have to experience losing a child at the hands of a text message,” he said.

Statistics show a 143 percent increase in cell phone-related crashes between 2005 and 2011. In the same period, alcohol-related crashes decreased by 18 percent.

In New York State, over 25,000 fatal and personal injury crashes in 2011 involved distracted driving, whereas there were about 4,600 alcohol-related accidents in the same year.

Assemblyman David Gantt points out that in 2012 texting-while-driving caused 11 teen deaths every day, with emphasis on “every day.” He added,  “There is no justifiable reason and no text important enough to put one’s life, or the lives of others at risk.”

“Traffic crashes remain the leading cause of death and injury for teens,” said John A. Corlett of the American Automobile Association. “Surveys indicate texting is even more prevalent among young novice drivers.” In fact, a survey by the Pediatric Academic Society shows that 43 percent of teenage drivers admit that they regularly text while behind the wheel.

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