New York addresses texting while driving with dedicated lanes

October 4, 2013 12:00 AM

Texting while driving has become increasingly common, particularly among tech-savvy teens and young drivers - and it's having a major impact on road safety. According to CBS News, research by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that sending and reading texts at the wheel can raise the chance of a collision by as much as 23 percent. When drivers are distracted by their phones, they are less aware of their surroundings. So while knowing the rules of the road and staying on top of vehicle maintenance are both crucial for avoiding a crash, texting could be a serious risk factor. Now, many states across the U.S. are finally cracking down on this dangerous practice.

New York recently announced the establishment of texting zones so that drivers can pull over and send a message, Autoblog reports. The state will start with 91 zones in total, which will include existing rest stops. If the trial is successful, the program will expand to include other areas.

"New York State is continuing to use every tool at its disposal to combat texting while driving," said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo during a press conference, as quoted by the source.

This development is part of a major effort by the state to eliminate risky distractions. This summer, New York police were granted a lifted SUV so that they could see into the driver's seat of passing cars. With a better view, there was a 365 percent increase in tickets from the summer of 2012.

Fla. finally cracking down
New York is not the only state addressing on this problem. The Miami Herald reported that a law that bans texting while driving, which has been in the works for more than five years, finally went into effect. Using talk-to-text technology, texting at a stoplight or a GPS device are exceptions, as is using your phone to report criminal activity.

According to the news source, neglecting to follow this law will be considered a secondary offense. That means that only if a motorist is pulled over for additional infractions can they be given a ticket.

Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Jeff Frost explained that while many citizens think the law is too lax, this development is still a step in the right direction. He pointed out that nearly half of teens have admitted to using their cellphone at the wheel, and that 11 percent of fatal crashes with a driver under 20 occurred because of distractions.

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