Press-Republican

October 2, 2013

Editorial: State serious about texting law


Press-Republican

---- — New York state isn’t kidding about the danger of texting while driving. If you’re caught, penalties are severe.

A sign at the southern end of Interstate 87 proclaims that you could be fined up to $150 for the offense. Other such signs are placed here and there throughout the state in hopes of ending the practice.

Perhaps no common violation of a driving law angers more people in the general public than somebody using a cellphone to talk or text while at the wheel. For some reason, that one brings out the hostility in passers-by as none other seems to.

And, as the auto industry sells more and more cars these days, the “need” to use a cellphone to communicate is diminishing. Bluetooth is becoming standard equipment in many models. That development allows the driver — or a passenger, for that matter — to talk on the phone without the hand-held device. It may look a little odd to see a driver talking or laughing it up in an otherwise empty car, but it’s merely a sign that Bluetooth is on the job.

You might have noticed that new signs have been posted around the state reminding you of the seriousness of the offense of texting while driving. Signs are now also promoting more than 90 highway rest areas as “Text Stops,” hoping that will encourage people will pull over to send or read messages. Some signage will also tell how much farther it is to the next testing site.

As of July, the penalties for texting while driving have increased. Here they are:

On the first conviction, the driver’s license will be suspended for 60 days. A second conviction within 18 months can bring a 60-day revocation. The difference between suspension and revocation is that a suspended license will be restored after the penalty period; a revoked license is gone and must be applied for, with all the tests, from the beginning.

Fines for a first offense ranges from $50 to $150, depending, apparently, on the attitude of the judge or other circumstances.

Fines for a second offense are $50 to $200; for a third, $50 to $400.

The surcharge that goes along with the fine and suspension or revocation is now $93, up from $85.

So, you see, the State Legislature and governor are more than passingly concerned about the peril drivers create when their attention is diverted from navigating.

They have enacted these laws, with heightened penalties, and are placing the very public reminders in key spots to head off violations.

Use your head: If the matter is so important that it must be communicated at once, pull over and tend to it, rather than trying to do it while driving.

It could save your life. It could surely save your license and money.