Is texting-and-driving the new speeding? Officials say more and more New Yorkers are using cellphones when behind the wheel; now, in an attempt to discourage people from reaching for their phones while on the road, Governor Cuomo's increasing the penalty for texting while driving and proposing legislation that would pur the practice on par with speeding and reckless driving for young drivers.
New York State banned texting-while-driving in 2009, and violating the ban warranted three points on a driving record; starting today, though, that penalty for a first offense will be upped to a five-points. Reckless driving also carries a five-point penalty, while speeding 11-20 miles per hour over the posted limit is only a 4 point violation. And to discourage new drivers from texting behind the wheel even further, Cuomo is proposing legislation that would suspend probationary and junior licenses for 60 days if the licensee is caught using a cellphone while driving.
Texting-while-driving is becoming one of the leading causes of car crashes, especially with people who are new to driving. "The unfortunate combination is the inexperience with fearlessness,” Cuomo said of young drivers yesterday. “We want the message to be very clear to young drivers: Don’t do it, and don’t think about doing it." The new penalties will cover all cellphone usage behind the wheel, including talking on the phone without a headset.