By John Ceravino
The state of New York is keeping up with the widespread use of texting while driving. Starting last month on Nov. 1, all drivers are prohibited from texting while operating a motor vehicle.
This past September, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood held a Distracted Driving Summit in order to address the growing problem. Their goal was to determine the best ways to reduce the number of crashes and deaths due to distracted driving.
“Safety is our number one priority,” said LaHood through a press release. “As we become a more mobile and wireless nation, we can’t afford to ignore new technology’s impact on roadway safety.”
The new law does raise some eyebrows though. It will be enforced as a secondary violation, meaning one would have to be cited for a primary offense before being ticketed.
“It doesn’t change much for me,” said junior and Business major Craig Blom, “I imagine it is hard to tell if someone is doing that while driving.”
Blom, like many other busy New Yorkers, texts while he drives. When asked what could be so important he replied, “It’s not really the urgency of the message; its more just a natural thing for me to grab my phone the second I get a message.”
The law is trying to keep up with the widespread use of smart phones that enable the user to text, e-mail, and play games while driving. This has become a major problem over the past few years. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in a crash that involved a distracted driver.
Frank Terlizzo, a television production major in his junior year, says, “I think it was inevitable- you pose such a danger to yourself and everyone on the road when you’re that distracted.”
This is not the first time lawmakers were confronted with a new age problem of expanding technology threatening the safety of their streets. In December of 2001, New York State put into effect a ban on cellular phone use while driving. It does state the driver is allowed to use the phone either with a hands-free set or in the case of an emergency.
The new texting law has no such exceptions, clearly stating that under no circumstances shall a driver be allowed to text while operating a vehicle. It is sure to be scrutinized, though it seems a more effective procedure would be to make this a primary law. Once a secondary ticket is issued the damage has already been done.