Three years after introducing legislation to crack down on texting while driving, Governor Cuomo announced on Saturday that a strict law aimed at youth drivers had officially gone into effect.
According to a press release from the Governor’s Office, the new law states that drivers under 21 convicted of texting while driving will receive 120-day license suspensions for their first offense, and will have their licenses revoked if convicted of a second or subsequent offense within six months of the suspension.
The law’s aim at younger drivers is based on evidence from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which found that “10 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash,” specifically from cell phone use.
“Driving habits are developed early, and we are sending a message that texting while driving is unsafe, unacceptable and downright dangerous,” Governor Cuomo said in Saturday’s announcement. “We are seeking to change the behavior of young drivers now, and make New York’s roadways safer for all.”
Cuomo has stated that texting while driving has created more fatal accidents for young drivers than drinking while driving, a sentiment he reiterated at a Saturday rally in the Bronx.
“[Texting and driving is] especially problematic with young drivers, because it’s a bad combination: they don’t really have the experience, and they’re affixed to that electronic device like it’s wired into their hand,” Cuomo told reporters. “We’re trying to send a powerful signal, and they haven’t heard it yet.”
The law is Cuomo’s latest move to promote road safety in New York, with his administration enforcing stricter penalties to keep drivers with alcohol and drug-related offenses off the road and creating “Texting Zones” along roadways to give drivers a safe space to use their cell phones.