Albany, NY – 391,000 people were injured in a distracted driving accident in 2015 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In an effort to combat distracted driving in New York State, Senator Terrence Murphy has introduced legislation that, much like instances of drunk driving, would initiate a standard protocol for law enforcement to use in order to determine if distracted driving was the cause of a motor vehicle accident.
Titled Evan’s Law, named after Evan Lieberman, a New Castle teenager who lost his life due to a distracted driving accident in Westchester County, the bill would be the first in the nation to receive legislative approval. On Monday, working alongside Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz, Senator Murphy hosted a distracted driving lobby day to galvanize support for the legislation.
“We need to keep our hands off the phone and on the wheel,” Murphy told the crowd. “Statistics are showing we are having more distracted driving accidents than drunk driving because they did a really good job of making a platform for all of us to be aware. Well this is the next step.”
Click here to watch Senator Murphy’s full remarks.
“At the end of the day this is about saving lives,” Murphy added. “This is a bipartisan effort in order to do the right thing for our communities and for New York State.”
Assistant Assembly Speaker Felix Ortiz said, “The proposed law carefully borrowed on what makes a Breathalyzer legal and constitutional. All fifty states have implemented sobriety tests based on the legal principle of implied consent where drivers agree to sobriety test or lose driving privileges. The distracted driving impairment is equal to the drinking impairment and needs to be dealt with in a similar manner.”
New York State Assemblyman Kevin Byrne knows all too well about the dangers of distracted driving. The night after he received the endorsement to run for the Assembly he was involved in a horrific head on collision caused by a distracted driver. Thankfully, the Assemblyman’s injuries were not life threatening.
“Distracted driving, whether it be from lack of sleep, texting or checking social media on your mobile device, is quickly becoming one of the biggest contributors to auto accidents in the country,” Assemblyman Kevin Byrne said. “We need to give law enforcement the tools they need to enforce the law, and we must do our best to ensure drivers understand ‘hands off the phone, hands on the wheel, and eyes on the road!'”
New Castle Supervisor Rob Greenstein said, “I am incredibly proud that New Castle is leading the effort to combat this dangerous epidemic on our roads. Our education and enforcement efforts are being used as a model across the state. But, we need to give our police departments the tools they need to collect data and hold drivers accountable. It is an honor to work with New York State Senator Terrence Murphy and Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz on Evan’s Law. I look forward to a distracted driving policy in New York that enables police to examine phones at an accident site using the textalyzer.”