April 11, 2014

Editorial: Disturbing TV ad might be effective

A dramatic new TV ad about texting and driving should have an impact on everyone who sees it.

It’s part of an $8.5 million U.S. Department of Transportation campaign to try to stem the growing number of accidents caused by people who can’t wait until they pull over to use their cellphones.

If you haven’t seen the brief but powerful ad — which graphically shows a crash caused by a young woman checking a text message — you should check it out. And if you have kids, make them watch it, too.

You can find it at:

The act of texting while driving is growing as cellphone ownership becomes pervasive, and it puts everyone on the road in danger.

In 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says, 3,328 people nationwide were killed and about 421,000 hurt in crashes involving a distracted driver.

New York state has already taken some steps to try to reduce these kinds of accidents. Rest areas are now dubbed “text stops” by signs along highways like Interstate 87 that urge drivers to wait just a few more miles until they can pull over and safely text.

State Police are right now on heightened patrol for people using their electronic devices to talk or text. That includes using new, higher-profile but sneaky vehicles that let them see inside your car more easily. Drivers can’t as easily hide their texting in their laps anymore.

The points against driver’s licenses for distracted-driving convictions have been increased, and stiff fines are being doled out.

And starting Nov. 1, new laws take effect in New York that are aimed specifically at young drivers, who are among the biggest offenders in regard to cellphone violations. Starting then, young and new drivers convicted of a first offense of texting while driving will see their license suspended for 120 days. A second offense will earn them a one-year suspension.

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