An Onondaga County lawmaker wants drivers to keep their eyes on the road - not on their cell phones. Get caught texting in Onondaga County, and you could soon face a hefty fine.
Just about everyone has had a run-in with another driver who can't seem to keep both hands on the wheel. "I've seen many people veer off the road while they're texting or talking," said Janine Heisler of Liverpool.
Right now, it's only against the law to talk on your cell phone while driving in New York. But Onondaga County legislator, Patrick Kilmartin, wants to take the law one step further by banning all texting - sending or receiving. "Concentrating on text messages rather than the road leads to swerving, drifting, tailgating, cutting off another driver or hitting another car," said Kilmartin.
According to AAA, talking on the cell phone while driving increases your chances of getting into an accident by 400% and texting doubles those odds. Seven other counties in New York have passed similar laws. While most phone companies charge a few cents per message, get caught by police, and that one message could cost you a $150 fine. Supporters say that's a small price to pay compared to the rising number of accidents caused by electronic distractions. "Since the state passed the legislation for cell phone usage, we've had, to my knowledge, 3 fatals in this county while the persons were on the cell phone," said Onondaga County Undersheriff Warren Darby.
Whether or not emergency personnel will be exempt from the law is still being debated. The vote is scheduled for the April 1st legislative session.