In last week’s State of the State Address, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined a number of initiatives for 2014, including one that has a significant impact on teens who choose to text and drive.
Under current New York State law, any probationary or junior driver caught texting and driving can lose their license for up to 6 months. Under the proposed change, any driver under 21 could see that penalty double to a year.
Is that necessary? Let’s look at the statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
- Drivers under the age of 20 make up the largest proportion of those drivers involved in fatal crashes who were found to be distracted
- 25% of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive (original find by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute)
- While the NHTSA counts a number of actions as distractions, such as talking on the phone, eating/drinking, and using a navigation system, it found that the most dangerous distraction is text messaging, because it requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver.
Last year, several changes were made to the penalties in New York State, including an increase from 3 to 5 points on the driver’s license for a texting-and-driving violation, and an increase in the maximum fines (which top out at $400 for a third or subsequent offense within 18 months of a previous offense).
Let’s hope other states take notice and push for similar changes. While it won’t fix the problem, it’s a huge step in the right direction.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).