Senator Alesi Introduces Legislation To Combat Texting While Driving

James S. Alesi

November 16, 2007

Senator Jim Alesi (R- Perinton), was joined by Major Mark Koss of New York State Police Troop E, as well as, representatives from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office at a press conference today announcing he has introduced legislation (S.6443) that would prohibit the writing, sending or reading of text messages on a mobile telephone while driving.

"The aim of this bill is not only to deter the practice of texting while driving by imposing fines, but more importantly to stress the need for an educational component for our young drivers on the possible fatal consequences of distracted driving," said Senator Alesi. "Education and prevention are the key components of this legislation and I have no doubt that it will save lives."

"Any and all bills presented by the State Senate to help highway safety will be supported by the State Police," said Major Mark A. Koss, Commander for Troop E.

Senator Alesi's bill would amend the current law 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". The bill would further direct 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.

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, the current law does not apply to the newest trend in communications among youngest drivers - text messaging.

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. 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.