• 327
Texting while driving is highly distracting and can eas... Texting while driving is highly distracting and can easily result in a crash (Getty Images).
In an effort to curb distracted driving, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a plan on Monday to designate certain areas along the state's highways as "texting zones."

"New York State is continuing to use every tool at its disposal to combat texting while driving," Cuomo said during Monday's news conference. "We are now launching special 'texting zones' to allow motorists to pull over and use their phones."

The 91 "texting zones" will use existing infrastructure, namely the state's rest areas and parking areas, as a way to encourage drivers to get off the road before using their cell phone. A spokesman for the governor told ABC News that the state may consider adding additional locations later on. The zones will be identified with signs along the New York State Thruway and state highways.

Providing drivers with a safe area in which they can text or send email seems to be one of the more pragmatic steps officials have taken in combating distracted driving. It's difficult to predict exactly how well they will work, but by providing the space and advertising the spots heavily, the state could have figured out a more effective way to get people to be safer drivers. It may be the most common-sense approach offered by lawmakers yet.

The "texting zone" announcement comes amid a big push by the New York government to combat cell phone use behind the wheel. Earlier this summer, the state started using a new undercover police SUV designed to sit higher off the ground than a regular SUV. The higher vehicles allow police to look down into a car to see if a driver is using their phone.

The practice has helped to nab a lot of people in the act. Cuomo announced that troopers gave out 21,580 tickets this summer -- a remarkable 365 percent increase over the summer of 2012.

New York has also increased the penalty for distracted driving from three to five points on a driver's license, and increased license suspension and revocation periods for distracted driving on young and new drivers.

The cell phone attachment

The reality, though, is that it's virtually impossible to stop people from using their phones, despite a recent flurry of shocking videos (see Werner Herzog's recent documentary) and the threat of receiving a painfully expensive ticket. Studies over the past few years from AAA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have shown that laws banning texting and other cell phone use while driving simply don't work.

The cell phone has become like another appendage to many of us. In a recent interview on the NPR program All Things Considered, Dr. Larry Rosen, a research psychologist who studies how technology affects us, explained how the relatively new technology has reshaped our minds.

"We're seeing a lot of what looks like compulsive behavior, obsessive behavior," he said. "People who are constantly picking up their phone look like they have an obsession. They don't look much different from someone who's constantly washing their hands."

That obsession doesn't go away when one is behind the wheel. This new need to text, to share photos, to keep tabs on what everyone is doing causes many of us to feel the need to glance at our phones, which, even if we're doing it for just a couple of seconds, endangers ourselves and the lives of other drivers while we're driving.

It will be interesting to see if other states employ a similar "texting zone" tactic. Given their low cost -- the rest areas and parking lots are already there -- if the strategy helps in getting even just a few people to wait to use their phones, "texting zones" could easily spread to any of the 41 states that currently ban texting while driving.

Dangerous distraction

Statistics from the the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that in 2011, the most recent year for which crash data is available, 10 percent (3,331) of fatal crashes and 17 percent (387,000) of injury crashes were a result of distracted driving. A further breakdown of the incidents shows that 385 people died and 21,000 were injured in a crash in which at least one of the drivers was distracted by a cell phone.

Texting and driving is especially risky behavior for teen drivers. According to the data, 11 percent of all drivers 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. Of that group, 21 percent were distracted by the use of cell phones.

"With this new effort, we are sending a clear message to drivers that there is no excuse to take your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road because your text can wait until the next texting zone," he said.

Teen Driving Panel, Part 1


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 327 Comments
      • 1 Year Ago
      90% of smart phones nowadays contain GPS built in. If the GPS senses you are in motion over say standard walking speed, the phone should not allow texts to be viewed or created. Simple solution that can be updated in every phone. Of course there will be some hackers who would circumvent the feature, but it could help save many accidents and lives. The temptation for some to read and send texts while driving will always be there. The technology is there to solve the problem. Many built in car GPS systems will not allow you to set an address unless the car is stopped. This is the same exact feature. I would bet if this was a mandatory update for all smart phones within the next year, you would see texting while driving accidents drop significantly.
        • 1 Year Ago
        hi. i wish i would have seen your comment before mine. its exactly true. they know our every move. it should be understood, get in car phone goes off unless you pull over and turn off key. onstar was telling me she saw the windmills i was passing while she guided me home HOW FREAKY WAS THAT?
        • 1 Year Ago
        That's thoughtful but wouldn't work bud. What about the passengers in the car?
          • 1 Year Ago
          the registered car owner is in the phone
      truckers.wife
      • 1 Year Ago
      I was impressed at first with the idea of offering safe places to pull off because there are times when a text just cannot wait but then I was disgusted with the fact that there are SUVs designed so cops can look down into a car to see if you're using your phone. REALLY?? Can you say NAZI?
        seejohnedrum
        • 1 Year Ago
        @truckers.wife
        I watch you idiots operating your phone from my perch all the time. I'm no cop but Most of you act like 14 year old girls
        ELOY DTRUTH
        • 1 Year Ago
        @truckers.wife
        Can you say "DEAD" because your all "important" yet not at all important, selfish a$$ kills someone? Texting while driving should be dealt with just like drunk driving offenses. The first offense--you catch a heavy fine, and have to attend driver awareness classes. The second offense---you get an even bigger fine, a possible 30 days in jail, and your license is suspended for six months. The third offense---your license is permanently revoked---and then you can text your stupid, little butt until your fingers fall off while having to use mass transit.
        hncckdv
        • 1 Year Ago
        @truckers.wife
        Can you say "stupid"?
        donnacave
        • 1 Year Ago
        @truckers.wife
        What the hell. If you cannot count on the common sense of some people, who, btw put me and my family in danger, what do you suggest to get through to them. I think getting sizeable tickets would deter some. If you do not have a better solution, then you are part of the problem.
      • 1 Year Ago
      "… the right of the citizen to drive on a public street with freedom from police interference… is a fundamental constitutional right" -White, 97 Cal.App.3d.141, 158 Cal.Rptr. 562, 566-67 (1979)
        Dennis M.
        • 1 Year Ago
        It is the right of the citizen to drive on a public street with freedom from with out some MORON on a phone killing them.
        seejohnedrum
        • 1 Year Ago
        Wrong Driving is not a right it's a privilege that can be taken away at any time for many reasons. What you've written refers to police profiling drivers and pulling them over for unwarranted contact, questioning and search.
      reinventex101
      • 1 Year Ago
      Like they can't already do that? Like they will do that? Like far out!
      Jud
      • 1 Year Ago
      This sounds pretty lame. All highways have shoulders where people can park on the side of the road. This idea sounds like a waste of taxpayer money. Take their phones away and suspend their license and if necessary take it away. This is what will work. Have the judges suspend cell phone service for 6 months and let all carriers know to block them from getting a new phone. This will stop this bad behavior in one month tops. I dare you NY to try this method. Other states will follow suit right away.
        eric
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jud
        so they walk into the nearest convenience store and buy a burn phone
      Dave
      • 1 Year Ago
      So NY spend millions of dollars (they are broke) to change the sign on "Rest Area" to "texting Zone"... What another joke from the idiots running our government..
        donnacave
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dave
        You sir are the idiot. And I do not use that word very often. The people who text and drive also are idiots, not caring about who they injure or kill. It seems they all have that "it can't happen to me" syndrome. There is nothing wrong with the SUV if it saves lives. Seeing a sign that says "texting zone" would be a reminder to people to not text and drive and maybe more people will pull over. Only time will tell if the new policy works.
          hncckdv
          • 1 Year Ago
          @donnacave
          I agree with the SUV comment however the comment in regards to "text stop" is a waste of money. People are not stopping for that sign, however they get a texting ticket or two from that SUV and they MIGHT get the message.
      bbiggert
      • 1 Year Ago
      There is an easy fix for this problem. It is called a jammer. It is cheap and auto manufacturers could be required them to be installed in all cars and wired in such away they could not be removed . Existing cars could be required to have them installed at owners expense. It would darn sure be worth it in lives saved and lives forever ruined due to tragic accidents. There is also the costs involved in these accidents. Possible incentive money for existing cars might come from auto insurance companies. BTW these jammers are already being sold although they are illegal in this country with certain exceptions.
      Kevin
      • 1 Year Ago
      My first thought: Mandate that cars send out a signal to interfere with the phone function that prevents phone function from driver seat. Plant the signal antenna in the seat and direct it upward and angled out. This will still allow phone function from all other seats. Disable built-in dialing systems in high end cars when driver seat is occupied. Can this be done? Don't know. A more radical approach: I am almost sure that cell phone function can be cancelled in a moving car by many different means. If there is no concern about other occupants of the car being able to use a cell phone as well it makes the entire process very doable. Certainly society would understand the gain in lives saved at a cost of the inability for ANYONE to use a cell phone in a moving or running car. Not really an unreasonable request don't ya think? After all, it's hard to make an argument against it because the otther calls made by passengers are not really "required" or "necessary", but rather they are just calls made to interrupt the boredom of being a passenger. And really if you get right down to it, an emergency 911 call could be allowed to override the locks in the system somehow. The tech exists to do this and I am all for saving the life of that 18 year old who is at this very moment that you are reading this is alive and smiling or laughing with a family member or that 57 year old father that is watching a movie with his family right now and the statistics say that one or both will die as a result of distracted driving an d we will read about there crash. Everyone thought that banning smoking from all restaurants and bars would never fly right, but smokers of society adapted, right? So this is along the same lines sort of.
      • 1 Year Ago
      An earlier comment said stiffer fines would do little to stop texting/cell phone use while driving. How about confiscating the electronic equipment and impound the vehicle the driver is using - whether he/she owns it or not, say 6 months for a first violation. Of course the driver pays the towing fee plus the 6 months storage fee on top of the fine.
        Cynthia
        • 1 Year Ago
        That is a great idea!!
        Jud
        • 1 Year Ago
        I'm with you, check out my post about this just a little while ago. Great minds think alike of course!!
      Mitch
      • 1 Year Ago
      It will NOT work.....when drivers see cops they put thier phones down, when cops aren't around they continue to text. the only thing that will work are unmarked cars. It's as simple as that.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I drive a truck coast to coast an see ppl texting in every state not paying attention to the road so I wait for them to get along side my front fender an hit the air horn scaring the hell out of most an they drop their phones. This is a big problem on our highways an having a Class A license if I am caught texting or talking on a cell phone without a headset I can be fined up to $2750 an lose my license for up to a year I think this should be in affect for all drivers maybe they would think twice about texting an driving. I notice ppl in big cities during rush hour stop an go traffic texting away I am very surprised there are not more accidents than there are PEOPLE STOP TEXTING AN DRIVING IT'S DANGEROUS
        Jud
        • 1 Year Ago
        Cops seem to ignor this and they are on cells without headsets or bluetooth too, have you seen that.??
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jud
          yes I see cops using their cell phones all the time while driving an if a cop is caught using a cell phone or is breaking any other law they should be punished double or what any other driver is
        wjrsr1960
        • 1 Year Ago
        I agree. I drive a truck and I see it all the time. I have a camera mounted, and I taped i young girl texting while driving.. had 5 mins of video... at a red light I hollered over at her. and said. STOP TEXTING WHILE DRIVING. she hollered right back at me... CAN YOU PROVE IT. ( then she called me a nasty name)... My employer will not let me post it on you tube.
          wjrsr1960
          • 1 Year Ago
          @wjrsr1960
          I should just mind my own biz ness...Im no law enforcement. Blue tooth blue tooth
      sheila
      • 1 Year Ago
      They can't even control the texting in the city, where there are officers driving up and down the road,,,,,,1st offence they should take away their driving " privilege' and let them walk and text, if they get hit while texting, let their danged oboomacare help them.
        notopoliticalbs
        • 1 Year Ago
        @sheila
        These are the same people that walk into reflecting ponds or walk into poles while texting. Then the gov would have to raise the rates for oboomacare to cover the cost of all the drownings and broken noses. We wouldn't want that.
        wjrsr1960
        • 1 Year Ago
        @sheila
        I seen some one walking on a side walk while texting. he walked right off the side walk and rolled into the road
    • Load More Comments