(Albany, NY) – Senator Carl L. Marcellino , Assemblyman Felix Ortiz and parent advocate Kelly Cline today in Albany called for the passage of bill S587/ A2453, a ban on text messaging while driving. Mrs. Cline has become an outspoken advocate for the passage of such a bill since her son A.J. Larson was killed in a texting while driving accident.
“Text messaging is the ultimate distraction, taking all focus and attention off the road. Most of the time you’re using two thumbs, plus you’re looking at the screen,” Senator Marcellino (R, Syosset) said. “If you’re driving, that fraction of a second that you take your eye off the road can be the difference between life and death. We simply can’t afford to wait any longer to pass the ban.”
“In New York State, it is illegal to drive while talking on a cellular phone; though it is still legal to send a text message. It is ridiculous that we are continuing to allow such an obviously perilous action to continue legally in this state,” said Ortiz.
Text messaging while driving presents a clear danger to the driver and others on the road. Beyond the dangers of talking on a handheld cell phone, a driver’s eyes are taken off the road to read the message received or sent. Many lives have been claimed in crashes involving text messaging while driving, including Mrs. Cline’s son. Almost two years ago, a fiery crash outside of Rochester that took the lives of five high school girls garnered national media attention. Last month, a 22 year old woman was killed in a collision with a milk truck while texting behind the wheel.
"This proposed legislation would build upon the current state ban on the use of hand-held phones by prohibiting the use of hand-held communication devices to send text messages, e-mail, etc. while operating a motor vehicle. Clearly, such conduct while driving represents behavior that is more dangerous than using hand-held phones and should be prohibited', said John Corlett Chairman of the Legislative Committee for AAA New York State.
In addition to a ban on text messaging while driving, the bill requires a lesson on the dangers of text messaging while driving be included in the pre-licensure course new drivers are already required to complete. These few moments of education are crucial for protecting the lives of young drivers.
"The law must keep pace with technology, and this legislation aims to do just that," said Schroeder. "Texting while driving is extremely dangerous, as these recent tragedies have shown us. This common sense measure would help protect lives and send a clear message to all motorists - texting and driving don't mix."
Across the state, counties and municipalities have introduced just such a ban, including Suffolk, Westchester, Schenectady, Schuyler and Nassau counties. National support for such legislation has also been tremendous with several states considering such a ban. This legislation would end the patchwork currently governing text messaging while driving that is confusing and ineffective.