Texting Tickets Triple After Tough Law Begins

Driving while texting tickets handed out in Oswego County in the year before and the year after the state's tough new restriction on texting behind the wheel.The number of tickets handed out for texting while driving tripled in Oswego County in the year since the state toughened the penalties.

Police in the county handed out 46 texting-while-driving tickets from July, 2011 to June, 2012.  That’s more than three times the 14 tickets issued in the year before that.

A year ago, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that made texting while driving a primary offense.  It meant that police could pull a driver over if they saw the driver sending a text message.  Until then, police could only issue a ticket for texting if they pulled a driver over for some other offense.

The license penalty for texting while driving was also increased from two points to three.

Cuomo’s office announced Thursday that police across the state issued more than 20,000 tickets for texting while driving in the last year, quadruple the amount given out in the year before.

Before the law change, three of the state’s 62 counties had not given out a single ticket.  In the past year, under the new law, every county recorded at least one ticket.

New York City’s boroughs and the downstate counties recorded the largest numbers of tickets.

From the Governor’s press release:

“The major increase in tickets issued for texting-while-driving violations since this law went into effect demonstrates its usefulness in helping our law enforcement authorities crack down hard on distracted driving,” Governor Cuomo said. “Using a handheld device while driving puts other motorists in danger and can lead to tragic consequences. These tickets should send a resounding message to all drivers: keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. I thank the State Police and local law enforcement for their dedication to ensuring the safety of the people of the state of New York.”

Recent research has shown that motorists who use handheld electronic devices while driving are four times more likely to be involved in a crash. The behavior of such drivers can be equivalent to the behavior of drunk drivers at the threshold of the legal limit of .08 BAC. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributed more than 3,000 deaths last year to distracted driving, calling it a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways.