Police across New York state have issued nearly 119,000 tickets to drivers using handheld devices behind the wheel in the last seven months.
Governor Andrew Cuomo
says it's proof that the new law, which made texting a primary offense so it's easier for police to pull offenders over, is working.
"We need the law," said driver Scott Gucciardi. "I catch myself every now and then grabbing the phone and I constantly have to remind myself it's the wrong thing to do."
About half of all adults say they've been in a car with a texting driver. In the summer, the new law passed which allowed police to pull over a driver solely for texting of using a handheld device behind the wheel, including iPods and GPS devices. Before July, drivers also had to violate another offense in order to be pulled over, like speeding or swerving into another lane.
State officials are hoping the stricter, more expensive penalties will drive down the number of distracted drivers. The offense now carries a three point penalty on your license and the ticket can easily cost more than $100.
Independent Insurance Agent Steve Donigan
says you could pay 10 to 15 percent more in car insurance rates if you get a ticket.
"They are looking at the risk and they are looking at a lot of different factors. One of which is your driving record," said Donigan. "Some are more forgiving than others, some will forgive one accident. It depends on the company, they all handle it a little differently."
That higher insurance rate could last for more than three years. Not to mention, if you're in an accident because of distracted driving, that will likely hike up your rates even more.
Some experts say texting and driving is just as
as driving drunk, comparing it to getting behind the wheel after 4 beers.
Some insurance companies, like Allstate, are encouraging their drivers to take
promising to put their phones down behind the wheel to make the roads safer for everyone.
In related news, the
National Transportation Safety Board
has now recomeneded a nationwide ban on driver use of portable electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle.
The NTSB says they did not come to this decision lightly. Officials have been researching accidents for almost ten years. The board says now is the time to push for a ban, due to the growing number of portable electronic devices in the United States.
Do you text and drive? Ever got ticket, had a crash, or a close call? Do you think the new law is enough to make drivers think twice? Join the conversation and leave a comment below.