Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that as a result of the strict new enforcement against drivers who use handheld electronic devices, law enforcement officials issued more than twice as many tickets for texting-while-driving offenses in New York during August 2011 as compared to August 2010.
The Governor introduced legislation to strengthen enforcement of texting-while-driving violations in June, and signed the new penalties into law in July. From January to June, a monthly average of 427 tickets were issued statewide to motorists for using a handheld electronic device while driving. In August, the first full month after the new law went into effect, 1,082 drivers were ticketed for texting-while-driving.
“We were serious when this law passed: texting while driving is illegal and the law is being enforced, so don’t do it. I thank local and state law enforcement officers for their diligence in keeping our roadways safe and protecting New Yorkers. Today’s message to drivers is to keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel,” Governor Cuomo said.
The new law makes using a handheld electronic device for activities such as texting while a vehicle is in motion a primary traffic offense, giving law enforcement the power to stop drivers solely for engaging in this activity. The law also increased the penalty for using a cellular phone without a hands-free device or a handheld device while driving from two to three points.
Joseph A. D’Amico, Superintendent of the New York State Police, said, “These statistics reinforce the need for stricter enforcement to crack down on drivers who use a mobile device while behind the wheel. Governor Cuomo was right to push for this law, as it has helped our law enforcement officers fight distracted driving and punish those who put others at risk through their own irresponsibility. Together we will continue to work to reduce distracted driving, and keep New York’s highways safe.”
Barbara J. Fiala, Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles and Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee said, “This new legislation has enabled police officers to pull over drivers for the sole offense of using a handheld device. We have heard the devastating stories of those killed by distracted drivers, and with over 1,000 tickets issued in August for texting-while-driving, these new protections were clearly long overdue. I am proud to work alongside Governor Cuomo to help educate the public about this new law and to stand up against reckless and distracted driving, by promoting measures thatwill protect all who use our state’s roadways.”