New York officials promote "Texting Zones" to reduce distracted driving

On September 23, 2013, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state was creating "Texting Zones" along the state's highways and throughways in an effort to reduce the number of distracted drivers on the state's roads. New York drivers should be aware of the details of the texting stops, as well as the penalties they face if they receive a citation for distracted driving.

Promoting rest stops as texting stops

Gov. Cuomo said that the state was going to post almost 300 signs along the state's major highways and throughways alerting drivers that rest stops are also "text stops." The signs will have slogans such as "It can wait, Text Stop 5 miles," and direct drivers to 91 rest stops that also serve as Texting Zones. The state did not actually build anything new at the rest stops designated as Texting Zones. Rather, the new signs are supposed to serve as a reminder to drivers that there are areas available to pull over to use their phones, instead of doing so while driving.

Cracking down on distracted driving in New York

The Texting Zone initiative is coupled with an increase in enforcement of the state's distracted driving laws and increasing penalties for those who are cited for distracted driving. Over the summer of 2013, New York State Police officers patrolled the roads, targeting those using handheld cell phones for talking or sending text messages. New York State Police data revealed that officers issued 21,580 distracted driving tickets between July 4 and September 2, 2013, which is a 365 percent increase over the 5,208 tickets police issued during the same period in 2012.

The penalties for a handheld cell phone ticket in New York also increased in 2013. Drivers who receive such citations now face five points added to their driving records, instead of three points as in the past, as well as a $150 fine.

Talk to an attorney

New York officials are targeting those who use cell phones while driving, both by increasing patrols and penalties for violations. Distracted driving tickets can be serious matters. In addition to the fine associated with the ticket itself, people can end up paying more for insurance and potentially losing their licenses altogether from having accumulated too many points on their driving records. Rather than just paying the ticket, it is worth the effort to dispute the matter. If you have questions about a traffic ticket, speak with a skilled New York traffic ticket attorney who can advise you of your options.