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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.


Photo Credit


Related Posts:

New York State Governor Unveils ‘Texting Zones’

New Jersey Appeals Court Releases Opinion on Texting with a Driver

Smartphone Companies Launch Collaborative Texting and Driving Effort


  1. Gravatar for Erik Wood

    Text and Drive recently became the #1 killer of teens in the US - more lethal than drunk driving. I think its starting to become clear that legislation has value in raising public awareness in forums like this one but it will be difficult to solely legislate our way out of this issue. I also read that over 3/4 of teens text daily - many text more than 4000 times a month. New college students no longer have email addresses! They use texting and Facebook - even with their professors. Tweens (ages 9 -12) send texts to each other from their bikes. Technology needs to be part of the solution and not dismissed as the villain.

    I decided to do something about distracted driving after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver. Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user, I built a texting asset called OTTER that is a simple and intuitive GPS based, texting auto reply app for smartphones. While driving, OTTER silences those distracting call ringtones and chimes unless a bluetooth is enabled. The texting auto reply allows anyone to schedule a ‘texting blackout period’ in any situation like a meeting or a lecture without feeling disconnected. This software is a social messaging tool for the end user that also empowers this same individual to be a sustainably safer driver.

    Erik Wood, owner

    OTTER apps (Since 2010. Free)

  2. Erik, thank you for taking the time to comment. I wasn't familiar with OTTER, but it sounds like you've come up with a very practical and useful response to the distracted driving problem. Kudos for your efforts and attention to this issue!

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