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New York state toughens penalty for texting-while-driving

June 3, 2013 at 12:01 AM   |   Comments

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NEW YORK, June 2 (UPI) -- New York state has put tougher penalties in place for texting-while-driving for all drivers, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced at a news conference Sunday.

Cuomo said he directed New York state police to increase enforcement of the texting-while-driving ban during the summer starting this weekend -- meaning more checkpoints and troopers patrolling on the roads across the state throughout the summer when more drivers are on the road.

"As the father of three teenagers, I know firsthand the importance of instilling safe practices in our young drivers who are developing lifelong habits as they learn to navigate the road," Cuomo said in a statement.

"Inattention and inexperience is a deadly combination -- one this legislation seeks to deter. We are urging young and inexperienced drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, while putting stronger penalties in place for drivers of all ages who violate the law and put others in danger. No parent should have to experience losing a child at the hands of a text message."

The state Department of Motor Vehicles will increase the number of points earned against an individual's driving record upon conviction for texting-while-driving and cellphone-related infractions from the current three points to five points, Cuomo said.

"To say smartphone-driving impairs you to the level of a drunk driving is almost cliche nowadays. Most motorists know that drunk-driving comparison and truly believe the stat," Ben Lieberman, co-chairman of Distracted Operators Risk Casualties, who lost his son in a car crash, said.

"You don't need an academic study to prove that if you take your eyes off the road, you are more likely to crash. Yet the behavior continues and traffic casualties are increasing rather than decreasing."

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