The modern world: rest stops are "text stops"

andrew cuomo text stop signs

The Cuomo administration announced today it has designated 91 "texting zones" along the Thruway and state highways. The zones are already-existing rest stops, parking areas, and park-and-ride lots. (Example: The New Baltimore Thruway service area near Albany.) They're designated by 296 new signs indicating their distance (above).

So, if ever you wondered, "I just got coffee at this Thruway service area, might I also text someone while parked here?" -- you now have definitive signage indicating an answer: Yes, yes you can. Your travels will no doubt be smoother without this question burdening you.

The "texting zone" designations are part of the Cuomo admin's ongoing campaign against distracted driving. In announcing the signs today, Andrew Cuomo also shared some numbers from the state's stepped-up enforcement of mobile talking/texting while driving:

For the period July 4-September

2013 tickets issued: 21,580 (16,027 talking / 5,553 texting)

2012 tickets issued: 5,208 (4,284 talking / 924 texting)

New York State has strengthened its laws against phoning/texting while driving over the last few years -- it's now a primary offense (meaning you can be pulled over for it specifically), and a ticket is now worth 5 points. Also the Cuomo admin says State Police have been using unmarked SUVs to peer into vehicles to see if people are texting while driving.

Distracted driving is an important issue. There's research that indicates using a phone while driving is like having a .08 blood alcohol level, the legal limit. Also: it irks everyone else when you don't start moving at the green light because you're looking down to text.

photo: Cuomo administration


Maybe it goes without saying, but I assume "texting" really means "operating" your phone while driving... or no? Can anyone clear this up?

"But officer, I was using the GPS functionality on my phone!" Speaking of which, is it illegal to operate a dash-mounted GPS device while driving or is that fine? What is said-device is your phone?

TEXT STOPS!?!??!?!?!!?

Jeez-m-crow. What is the world coming to? I know that people will never completely stop texing and driving and agree that there should be enforced regulations on such behavior. This, on the other hand, seems just plain stupid to me. I have serious doubt about its effectiveness. Also, it kind of seems to condone people's basic impatience. If somone cannot wait twent minutes to get where they are going to respond to, or even look at, a text message, what makes anyone think that that person can wait five minutes to get to a dedicated area, where it is likey that trees have had to have been removed to create.


Ah ha! A sign! That will solve the problem!

I plug my iPod into my car to listen to music. I know I'm allowed to fiddle with my radio controls while I'm driving. But is it legal to to press buttons on my iPod to change the the song? (I'm sure the guy peering in from the unmarked SUV would mistake it for an iPhone.)

Its just sarcasm. Its just New York's way of reminding people "Hey pull over stupid if you want to text, so we have to send out people to scrape your ignorant carcass off the road and tow your scrap heap to the junkyard or even worse, the carcass someone else and their family who isn't being a moron on the road". Sadly, it probably won't do much to stop people from being irresponsible you can't blame DOT for trying to wake up at least a few people.

And there's a huge difference between texting and pushing the seek button on your radio. You absolutely cannot text and drive safely, and no just because you haven't crashed yet doesn't mean you're doing it safely. People can drive drunk without killing anyone but that doesn't mean they're being safe. You can keep your eyes on the road while changing radio stations at a safe point in driving, and if you are unable to do that then pull over for that as well.

I actually just got a ticket for talking on my cell phone while driving - it was from a very nice state trooper driving an unmarked SUV. I was pretty embarrassed about it and I have now gone cold turkey. I was just in the habit of always making calls in the car. The habit has now been broken.

So the difference between drunk driving and texting driving is nil. They're equal. Except that one is a small fine, and the other is license loss and a trip to jail. Why? Because people who consume alcohol are bad people worthy of harsh judgement.

There is a reason my phone/music device is in a holder right in front of the radio controls...

For those who would like to read the law, it is here:

The definitions are pretty clear. Electronic devices that are hand held are prohibited. Your iPod is out unless you are not holding it. But read the law yourself and decide. I'm not a lawyer.

Thanks for the link, Komradebob! Guess I will be buying a dashmount today!

Of course, the problem here is that the Thruway is probably the least-bad place to text and drive in the state -- it's straight and everybody's heading in the same direction. It's in the busy areas that we need to remind people their principle job should be driving the car. The issue is people who are looking at their phones, iPods, whatever, when they should be looking at the road. Every day, I see people flying through intersections, which really demand full attention, with their eyes looking down to their devices.

I think that driving a car has become so safe (for the driver) and comfortable that it's just boring, and drivers are constantly looking for something to do to distract themselves. If you can drive with one hand on your phone, the other holding a foam cup while making a sloppy turn through an intersection, driving's too easy. Nobody's paying attention because the individual consequences are so low.

My plan for ending this insanity is to outlaw power steering. If people had to return both hands to the wheel in order to drive, they'd spend less time fiddling with gadgets and more time actually driving.

Carl, I fully support your notion regarding power steering, and I think it would be even better if every vehicle was equipped with a manual transmission as well. If one had to fully engage all limbs while driving, the streets would be much safer since it's nearly impossible to utilize a thingy while driving a standard, particularly in city traffic.

R, I- like many other Americans, do not know how to drive with a manual transmission. There are a lot of people who drive automatic and don't text and drive, we shouldn't force everyone to conform to a very strict (and seemingly backward) law because people are texting, especially since they'll find a way to do it regardless.

I love how people often come to the solution of reverting cars back to an older style in an attempt to force people to stop texting. So I'm going to use their logic and say we should go back to an old style of using a phone. That's right, these people should be happy with landlines!

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