Drivers react to Cuomo's proposal to change texting while driving penalties for new drivers

texting while driving.


lanna Spector is a freshman at Jamesville-DeWitt High School. She's too young to drive, but she has some friends who are old enough and says they typically keep their phones by their side when they're behind the wheel.

"Most of my friends just kind of, like if they get a text they just look at it and then wait until they pull over to answer it," says Spector.

While many of Alanna's friends will wait, thousands of deaths every year are a result of teens driving while distracted.

Deraux Branch teaches new drivers everyday at Branch's Driving School in Syracuse and sees that teens have a lot of room to grow.

"They've done studies on cognition of 16 year old brains and 17 year old brains, so they're not fully developed at that point. I don't think they understand the long term consequences and ramifications behind what they do," says Branch.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget calls for a change in the consequences for teens who are caught texting behind the wheel. It would impose a 4 month suspension on the first offense and a one year suspension for the second.

If passed, it would apply to all 16 and 17 year olds with junior licenses and to any new drivers 18 years or older within the first six months of receiving a probationary license.

Branch supports Governor Cuomo's proposal to enact harsher penalties on young drivers caught texting behind the wheel.

"If it is implemented and it's beneficial to decrease those numbers, then absolutely it's a good thing," says Branch.

As a driver, Elyse Truax also supports this proposal. "I think suspending their license if they see that, they might be a little less likely to want to text and get on their phones and maybe just wait," says Truax.

Some drivers like Petricia Tanner and Rod Notz say the Governor's proposal should go further to include drivers of all ages.

"Responsibility shouldn't just be instilled in the young people. It's important to kind of have this instilled in everybody, doesn't matter what age," says Tanner.

"It should be across the board. There's no reason for anybody to be texting while they're driving and not paying attention to what's going on," says Notz.

Lawmakers are expected to discuss the bill on Sunday and vote on Monday.