The state Senate last week passed a bill that would make texting-while-driving a primary offense.
Under the current law, a driver may only be ticketed for texting while driving if initially stopped for another traffic violation.
According to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration, in 2009, 5,474 people were killed on U.S. roadways in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved distracted driving. Of those, the deaths of 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction.
The measure was part of a package of six traffic safety bills passed last Thursday. The Senate also voted to increase the penalties both for passing a stopped school bus and for theft of a motor vehicle when a child under 16 is in or on the vehicle; make it illegal for a driver to force his or her way into a funeral procession; prohibit the use of any device which affects the operation of a traffic-control signal; and require judicial discretion for the issuance of a conditional license.
“In particular, the bans on texting-while-driving and traffic-control signal devices recognize how new technology is changing traffic safety, and I hope will prevent tragedies and save lives,” state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) said.