Next text stop: 5 miles

Des Toups

By

Managing Editor

Highway rest stopNew York has relabeled its rest areas and highway pull-offs as “texting zones.”

Hey, it worked when your local airport turned a parking lot into a “Cellphone Waiting Area.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday personally unveiled the new campaign that adds nearly 300 signs along the New York State Thruway encouraging would-be texters to wait five minutes and pull over to text. The new signs include messages that read, “It can wait. Text Stop: 5 Miles.”

 “Five minutes really won’t make a difference” to wait to look at a phone, Cuomo said. “It really won’t. It can wait. And if you wait until you are in a rest area or a service area, you literally may be saving someone’s life, and the life you save may be your own.”

New York has stepped up its anti-texting game dramatically in the past few years.

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Improved enforcement of the state’s law has increased the number of tickets for distracted driving fourfold compared with last year.  (Part of that enforcement includes officers in high-riding SUVs looking for drivers gazing at their laps -- the result of another change in state law that allows police to pull over texters for that reason alone.)

Those convicted face stiffer fines, as high as $150 for the first offense, and younger drivers with probationary licenses can lose their licenses for 60 days.

And the coup de grace, delivered in July: Driver’s license points assigned to the offense rise from three to five. For comparison, that’s the same as reckless driving. A minor speeding ticket is three points.

Any driver with more than six points on New York driver’s license in an 18-month period has to pay a “driver responsibility assessment” of at least $100 a year for the next three years.

While there is no certainty that your car insurance company will take the texting violation as seriously as the state does, it very well could -- and it’s likely the increase in your New York car insurance rates would be even greater than $100 a year.

SRSLY, it can wait.


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