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New York adds 'texting zones' to state highways

Spots at rest areas and turnouts are part of state's effort to reduce distracted driving.

By Douglas Newcomb Oct 9, 2013 1:05PM

“It Can Wait” is a slogan and campaign from AT&T to discourage drivers from texting. And if it can’t wait, New York is giving drivers a safe place to text by providing statewide "texting zones" at rest areas and turnouts.

The state is also posting nearly 300 signs along major highways with the phrase “It can wait” and the number of miles before the next texting location to encourage drivers to pull over before picking up their smartphone.  Starting with 91 designated zones, the trial program recently announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo is part of the state’s effort to reduce the number of distracted drivers.

The yearlong crackdown by the state on distracted driving also included a lifted undercover SUV so state cops can get a better view into cars to catch drivers using their phones while driving.

As a result of this stepped-up enforcement, New York State Police wrote 21,580 tickets for distracted driving just this summer, up from 5,208 last summer, the New York Daily News reported. Cuomo also signed a law that increase fines for texting while driving to $150 and adds five points to a driver’s license.


Cuomo added that texting is particularly a problem among young people. “They are the generation of the cell phone, of the electronic device . . . that they use constantly,” Cuomo, the father of three teenage girls said. “I see it first-hand.”


At a press conference to kick off the program rest stop near Albany, Cuomo also noted that distracted driving causes one out of every five accidents in New York. “If you wait until you’re in a rest area or service area, you literally may be saving someone’s life and the life you save may be your own,” he said.


[Sources: Autoblog, New York Daily News]

Oct 9, 2013 2:58PM
The State shouldn't have to spend millions on a program like this.  Make getting caught texting by a cop a $1,000 fine, loss of license for a year and 1,000 hours community service and you'll stop a great deal of texting, generate revenue, take the idiots off the street for a good while and get some good work done.  Make getting caught texting while causing an accident all the above, plus a mandatory year in jail, and you'll get rid of many more.  Make getting caught texting while causing a death a mandatory 20 years in jail and you'll stop it all.  The texting companies have all the info they need to prove you were texting while driving, by the way, the judges just need to be smart enough to require it as part of any case brought in front of them.
Oct 9, 2013 2:30PM

Sorry officer, I was too busy texting to notice the sign.

Oct 9, 2013 2:03PM
A great idea, but I bet those texting will not heed the sign " IT CAN WAIT "
Oct 9, 2013 3:45PM
How about mandating that all cell phones sold be equipped to disable the texting function at speeds over 5 mph? For that matter, disable the phone entirely (except for ability to dial 911) at 5 mph.  Easily enough done.  Or offer rewards for people turning in drivers who're Using the phone on our roads.  I'm tired of having too many close calls (failure to maintain lane, etc.) and also tired of having to look out for idiots who put their precious electronic appendage over their own and everyone else's life and limb.  Believe it or not, kiddies, there was a time when we all got by without those things glued to our ears. 
Oct 9, 2013 3:08PM

If they really want to fix this problem then they should match the penalty of a duii beings that more people died this last year from texting than the other. $150.00 is a slap of the hand compared.

Oct 9, 2013 2:28PM
Pretty pathetic if while driving u feel you must read and return a text message.  I doubt these turnouts will help eliminate the problem as some morons will continue to drive and text..
Oct 9, 2013 2:23PM
Way to go NY.....should have signs ..."Save a Life Don't Text and Drive" ...........
Oct 9, 2013 2:32PM
I understand the theory, but I have heard that road signs are super expensive.  People who text and drive are going to do it regardles.  There isn't a person that has a driver's license that doesn't already know that it is dangerous to text and drive.
Oct 9, 2013 3:42PM
The sign should be in text. People who text can't read or write basic English.
Oct 9, 2013 2:59PM
Look at this lady who almost set fire at gas station  because she was yapping on cell phone.
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