LIVINGSTON COUNTY — Five seconds is the minimal amount of time attention is taken away from the road when texting and driving, according to a survey. At 55 miles per hour, that equals driving the length of a football field without looking once.
This past September, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the continuation of New York State’s effort to reduce distracted driving by unveiling special “texting zones” along the New York State Thruway and state highways, designed to give motorists a pull-off area to park and use their mobile devices. The signage was put into place Wednesday.
“New York State is continuing to use every tool at its disposal to combat texting-while-driving,” said Governor Cuomo. “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.”
A total of 298 signs will be located along major highways across the state, including two located in Mount Morris and Geneseo on I-390.
“These signs are going to be a strong tool to educate the importance of safe driving habits,” said Livingston County Undersheriff Jim Szczesniak.
According to the National Safety Council, texting while driving causes 1,600,000 accidents per year.
“In Livingston County, we have more accidents due to distracted drivers than we do DWI,” said Szczesniak. “We need to eliminate distracted driving to keep our young drivers safe.”
Texting is also known to be the cause of eleven teen deaths every day, according to the Institute for Highway Safety Fatality Facts.
“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,” said Governor Cuomo.
New York State currently has a handheld device ban for all drivers, as well as a ban on texting for all drivers.
According to a survey, texting while driving results in accidents to be 23 times more likely to happen.
In addition, this past summer, New York State Police issued 21,580 tickets for distracted driving, surpassing the summer of 2012’s total of 5,208 tickets.
“We are pleased that the New York State Department of Transportation is putting these signs up to educate drivers and is helping to make our county safer,” said Szczesniak.
Penalties for distracted driving include a $150 fine, along with five points on one’s license.
Texting while driving is a national epidemic that continues to grow, and is becoming one of the country’s top killers. Distracted driving-related accidents have surpassed the accidents related to Driving While Intoxicated.
For more information about the statistics related to distracted driving as well as the new stop texting while driving initiative, please visit www.governor.ny.gov.