New York toughens texting penalty for junior drivers

A new law reminds teen drivers in New York State to keep their thumbs on the wheel, and not on their cell phones, when behind the wheel.

According to the new law, if caught texting or using a hand-held cell phone while driving, the teen's license will be suspended for 60 days.

It applies to drivers with permits, probationary or junior licenses.

A second offense within 6 months will revoke a probationary license for 6 months, and a junior license for 60 days.

When he signed the bill, Governor Andrew Cuomo compared the current attitudes pertaining to texting and driving to how some people didn't think it was important to wear their seat belts a few years ago.

"It's literally about changing behavior, and behavior doesn't change easily," Cuomo says. "We've done it before, but it takes a lot of effort. We did it with the seat belt law. At one time nobody wore a seatbelt. They were in the car, but nobody put them on. It was unheard of to wear the seatbelt. Little by little we changed the behavior, we changed the orientation, and now it's the exact opposite."

In New York State, the number of cell-phone related crashes has more than doubled since 2005.

"There are more fatalities and injuries caused by texting and distracted driving than by drunk driving," the governor says.

As of June 1, if any adult driver is caught texting, e-mailing or talking on their phones while behind the wheel, it will cost them 5 points on their license and a hefty fine.

(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)