TWD, 5 points

texting while drivingThe state DMV is increasing the penalty for getting caught texting while driving, the Cuomo admin announced today. The penalty for TWD increases from three points on a license to five. And Andrew Cuomo has also directed the State Police to step up enforcement during the summer.

Cuomo is proposing a new law that would include a 60-day license suspension for new/young drivers caught for TWD, and temporary revocation if their caught again within 6 months of having their license restored.

New York has strengthened its law against using a mobile device while driver over the last few years. In 2011 the number of points on a license for texting while driving was increased from two to three, and TWD became a primary offense -- meaning a driver could be pulled over specifically for that. As a result, there's been an upswing in the number of people getting tagged for it.

Distracted driving often gets compared to driving while drunk. And there's research that indicates that using a phone while driving is like having a blood alcohol level of .08, the legal limit. The Cuomo admin shared some stats today in that vein:

+ From 2005 to 2011, there has been an approximately 143% increase in cell phone-related crashes in New York State. In that same time period, there has been an approximately 18% decrease in alcohol-related crashes in New York State.
+ In 2011, there were 25,165 fatal and personal injury crashes involving distracted driving in New York, compared to 4,628 caused by alcohol-related driving.
+ In New York State, the number of tickets issued for texting-while-driving (30,166) approached the number of DWI/DWAI arrests (43,954) in 2012. In fact, between 2011 and 2012, there was a 234% increase in the number of tickets issued for texting while driving. In the same time period, there was a 4% decrease in the number of DWI/DWAI arrests.

The NYT produced a good series about distracted driving a few years back.

Right, so, points on a license... how's that work? Points are assessed by the DMV based on violations such as speeding (3-11 points, based on how far above the limit) or running a stop sign (3 points). Rack up 11 or more points in an 18-month period, and it's license suspension.

photo: Flickr user mrJasonWeaver (cc)


Law against texting? Come on! It's an authorization for robbery.
What time is it? 10 minutes to 5 points. Who wears wrist watch these days?..
Looking for that Middle street in Nowhere, NY on your GPS? Another 5 points.
Thank you, Governor, we appreciate your efforts in reduction of NYS budget deficit.

2003 called. They want their photo back. Who uses a phone like that these days?

Also good to note that once you get 6 points (over half the limit for suspension) they make you pay a "Driver Responsibility Assessment" fee which is $300 outright or $100/yr for 3 yrs. Definitely not worth paying $300 for a text.

May we still use it at a stoplight?

Mike: if you have to text or check your smart phone, pull over. You are DRIVING a gigantic, hurtling killing machine. I don't care what Cuomo's political motivation is in this, or that it is indeed highway robbery. I don't want to get killed the next time you are behind the wheel and need directions or need to know what time it is. Or check a restaurant menu, or movie schedule, or text a spouse or whatever else people feel the need to do so urgently while driving.

And I'm not being holier than thou: last summer I got nabbed for speeding through a village and got points and a hefty fee. And I was more mad at myself (I should have noticed the reduced speed sign), but it has changed my driving behavior to not be so careless. Financial punishment for behavioral change works.

@Mike: Don't most cars have clocks on the dashboard? Also, since GPS is now being added to more and more cars it seems like the need to check a smartphone for directions will decline over time as more and more people have cars with this already included. (plus there is the option to purchase the GPS devices that attach to the windshield/dashboard for those who want GPS but don't have cars with this)

People like to minimize the dangers of texting, but a few months ago I was almost hit, head-on, by a driver who was looking down and drifted into my lane. Fortunately, she looked up and brought her card back into her own lane. I'm thankful for that! But I could have done without the scare. I don't think there was anything that she was texting about that was more important than my life or anyone else's.

Every time I'm on the highway I see at least a couple of cars that are driving slowly and veering from side to side. Inevitably when I pass them (I try to get far away from them) the driver is looking down at his/her phone. It's just too scary, and if asking people nicely to stop doing it doesn't work, then maybe a hefty penalty will. It's to save lives, not raise money.

As long as they aren't able to plea these down, I love it.

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