(Albany, NY) New York State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky today passed legislation that would require police to note whether drivers involved in a motor vehicle accident were using a cell phone at the time of the crash.
New York State only permits hands free cell phones while driving but numerous studies show that the devices can distract drivers, which can be a factor in vehicle accidents. Records show that sending text messages while driving was a factor in a 2007 crash that killed five girls from the Rochester area when their SUV collided head-on with a tractor-trailer. A 2007 study by the San Diego State University School of Public Health showed that using a cell phone while driving quadruples the risk of a collision and multiplies the risk of a fatality nine-fold.
Sen. Stavisky’s legislation, S1547A, would make New York the third state in the country with such a law. Minnesota and Oklahoma are the only other states to require police to note whether a cell phone was in use by drivers involved in a crash.
Sen. Stavisky said: “I am hopeful that this legislation will assist police and other officials in compiling statistics about the dangers of using a cell phone while driving. According to a 2000 study, drivers engaged in cell phone conversations showed delayed reaction times, a decreased awareness of their surroundings, and it is the distraction that is a danger to all of us.”
The Automobile Association of America said in a memo: “This legislation will enable officials to collect information relevant to the question of whether cellular phone use increases the risk of a crash by requiring the inclusion of relevant information in police automobile accident reports. This will allow the State to collect the data necessary to make an informed decision on whether steps must be taken to improve safety in this area.”
The legislation passed by a vote of 47 to 12.