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October 29, 2013

Teen drivers at greater risk

ALBANY — State Police issued 27,895 tickets during a crackdown on distracted driving that began on the Fourth of July holiday weekend and continued through Labor Day.

Infractions very often involved use of cellphones or other electronic devices while behind the wheel, and a special emphasis has been put on young people, according to a press release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office.

As of January 2013, New York had 331,000 licensed drivers between the ages of 16 to 19.

“Statistics show that motor-vehicle crashes are the No. 1 killer of 16- to 24-year-olds, and the majority of crashes occur during the first six months of licensed driving,” the governor said in the release. 

“That is why it is our responsibility as parents and guardians to instill safe driving habits in our teens who are just getting behind the wheel and why New York state recently increased penalties for distracted drivers, with a focus on new drivers. 

“When coupled with inexperience, dangerous practices like texting while driving, speeding or driving under the influence can lead to irreversible and terrible consequences.”

TOUGHER PENALTIES

In July, Cuomo signed legislation to impose the same penalties on drivers with probationary and junior licenses for texting while driving and using a hand-held cellphone that they receive for speeding and reckless driving: 60-day suspensions for first convictions and revocations of 60 days (for junior licenses) or six months (for probationary licenses) for subsequent convictions within six months of the time a license is restored after suspension. 

In June, the number of points charged against an individual’s driving record upon conviction for texting while driving and cellphone-related infractions increased from 3 to 5 for drivers of all ages.

The state also put in place 91 special “Texting Zones” to give motorists a pull-off area to park and use their mobile devices. Signs are visible along the New York State Thruway and state highways to indicate where zones are located.

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