senate Bill S536

Amended

Prohibits the writing, sending or reading of text-based communications on a mobile telephone with at least one hand while driving

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Sponsor

Bill Status


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor
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actions

  • 07 / Jan / 2009
    • REFERRED TO TRANSPORTATION
  • 06 / Jan / 2010
    • REFERRED TO TRANSPORTATION
  • 31 / Mar / 2010
    • AMEND AND RECOMMIT TO TRANSPORTATION
  • 31 / Mar / 2010
    • PRINT NUMBER 536A

Summary

Prohibits the writing, sending or reading of text-based communication on a mobile telephone while driving; creates a "cell phone safety" component in pre-licensing courses.

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Bill Details

Versions:
S536
S536A
Legislative Cycle:
2009-2010
Current Committee:
Senate Transportation
Law Section:
Vehicle and Traffic Law
Laws Affected:
Amd §§1225-c, 502 & 1225-d, V & T L; amd §2336, Ins L
Versions Introduced in 2007-2008 Legislative Cycle:
S6443A

Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER: S536

TITLE OF BILL :
An act to amend the vehicle and traffic law and the insurance law, in
relation to prohibiting the writing, sending or reading of text
messages on a mobile telephone while driving


PURPOSE :
The bill amends the current prohibition on using a hand held cell
phone while driving to include text messaging as well as requiring the
pre-licensing course to include a component on "cell phone safety" and
directing the commissioner to include at least one question on the
hazards and legal consequences of using a cell phone while driving.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS :
Section 1: amends section 1225-c(d)(1) of the vehicle and traffic law
to amend the definition of "hand-held mobile telephone" to include a
mobile telephone with which a user engages in call or writes, sends or
reads a text based communication using one hand.

Also, adds a new paragraph (h) to section 1225-c(d)(1) of the vehicle
and traffic law to define "write, send or read a text based
communication" to mean using a hand-held mobile telephone to
communicate with any person or device by using text based
communication referred to as a text message, instant message,
electronic mail or email.

Section 2: amends section 1225-c(a) to prohibit the use of a cell
phone to text message while driving.

Section 3: amends section 502 of the vehicle and traffic law by adding
new paragraph (c-3) prescribing that the Commissioner of Motor
Vehicles designate a portion of the pre-licensing course to educating
new drivers about the hazards of cell phone use while driving and the
potential penalties of violating this provision of the law.

Section 4: amends section 502(a), (b), and (d) of the vehicle and
traffic law to require that at least one question on the licensing
written examination relates to cell phone safety. Also, this section
provides the Commissioner with the ability to provide for the
additional training of pre-licensing course instructors to insure
competency in cell phone safety instruction.

Section 5: amends section 2336 of the Insurance Law to include a cell
phone safety component as part of the national safety council's
defensive driving course.

EXISTING LAW :
Section 1225-c of the vehicle and traffic law currently prohibits the
use of a cell phone while driving and establishes certain penalties.

JUSTIFICATION :
In 2001, in response to the growing number of traffic accidents where
the use of a cell phone was a factor, the state legislature passed a
law prohibiting the use of hand held cell phones while driving.
However, as technologies change so must the law.

The newest trend in communications among our youngest drivers is text
messaging. In fact a recent study by Nationwide Mutual Insurance
showed that 19% of all drivers and 37% of drivers between the ages of
18-27 text message while behind the wheel. As a result, several fatal
traffic accidents have been attributed to text messaging while
driving. Most notably, in my district, five recent high school
graduates were killed when their vehicle veered across the double
yellow line into on-coming traffic and was struck by a tractor
trailer. Further investigation discovered that the driver was
receiving and sending text messages in the seconds before the
accident.

According to studies done by AAA, any activity that takes a driver's
attention off the road for more than two seconds can double a driver's
risk of a crash. Therefore, this legislation not only prohibits text
messaging while driving, but also requires an educational component to
increase awareness of the hazards of distracted driving. The bill
directs the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles to
include a component on cell phone safety in the pre-licensing course
and a question on this issue in the written licensing exam. By
educating our young drivers on the possible fatal consequences of
distracted driving, this legislation may in fact save lives.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY :
2007 - Rules; 2008 - Transportation

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS :
Not yet determined.

LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS :
None.

EFFECTIVE DATE :
This act shall take effect 180 days after it shall become law.
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