ALBANY– Police in New York issued more than 20,000 tickets since the state’s texting-while-driving ban took effect a year ago –four times the amount in the prior year, state officials said Thursday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill to ban texting-while-driving a year ago after a number of fatal accidents involving teenagers who were texting behind the wheel. The law took effect July 12, 2011.

The law allows police to pull over drivers specifically for texting. A law in 2009 made texting a secondary infraction, meaning police could only issue a ticket if a driver was pulled over for another offense, such as erratic driving.

Police have said the change has allowed them to more aggressively enforce the law. The law also increased the penalty for using a handheld device while driving from two to three points on a license.

In the year prior to the 2011 law, police in New York issued 4,569 tickets for texting-while-driving violations. Since then, 20,958 tickets have been issued, Cuomo said.

“The major increase in tickets issued for texting-while-driving violations since this law went into effect demonstrates its usefulness in helping our law enforcement authorities crack down hard on distracted driving,” Cuomo said in a statement.

A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute report in 2009 found that drivers who texted were 23 times more likely to get in a crash than those who did not.

Source: The Journal News


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