ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) —Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed new legislation creating tougher penalties for teens caught texting-while-driving.
The legislation approved by the Senate and Assembly applies to drivers with permits and probationary or junior licenses.
“Today’s new law sends a powerful message to our young and new drivers that texting-while-driving will not be tolerated here in New York State,” Cuomo said. “Statistic after statistic shows that texting-while-driving is a chronic problem in our society, particularly among teenagers, and it will only get worse if we do not take action to prevent this deadly behavior.”
Those caught texting or using a hand-held cell phone on the road now face a 60-day suspension for a first offense.
A second offense within six months will revoke a probationary license for six months and a junior license for 60 days.
Sponsors of the legislation cited a 2011 survey by the Centers for Disease Control showing 45 percent of students 16 and older texted or emailed while driving in the previous 30 days.
“The obsession and addiction of using cell phones in cars endangers the lives and safety of every driver on the road; it has to stop,” St. Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. said in a statement. “This new law will reinforce the message that distracted driving is serious and dangerous and that a driver’s focus should be on the road, not their cell phone, when they are behind the wheel.”