In the latest effort to crack down on distracted driving, Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled new "Texting Zones" along the State Thruway and State Highways. They will give drivers a place to pull off and park before using their mobile devices.
The Texting Zones will be set up in existing Park-n-Ride facilities, rest stops and parking areas along the Thruway and highways and will dual-function as Texting Zones. Signs will be placed along the highway, informing drivers where the zones are located. In all, 298 signs will be placed along major highways across the state.
The announcement comes as we learn just how bad the problem of texting while driving really is. Statewide, there was a 365 percent increase in tickets issued this summer compared to last summer. This summer, State Police issued 21,580 tickets, surpassing last summer's total of 5,208 tickets. "New York State is continuing to use every tool at its disposal to combat texting-while-driving," Governor Cuomo said. "In addition to tougher penalties, new detection methods for State Police and ongoing public outreach efforts, we are now launching special Texting Zones to allow motorists to pull over and use their phones. These Zones will be identified with signs along the Thruway and State Highways, reminding drivers that there is a nearby opportunity for them to legally and safely use their phone. With this new effort, we are sending a clear message to drivers that there is no excuse to take your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road because your text can wait until the next Texting Zone."
In Central New York, you will find Texting Zones at the following locations:
Cortland Co. I-81 Preble
Jefferson Co. I-81 1000 Islands/Orleans
Jefferson Co. I-81 Watertown
Jefferson Co. I-81 Ellisburg
Jefferson Co. I-81 Orleans
Jefferson Co. I-81 Pamelia
Chenango Co. I-81 Whitney Point
Cayuga Co. I-90 Port Byron Service Area
Herkimer Co. I-90 Iroquois Service Area
Herkimer Co. I-90 Schuyler Service Area
Herkimer Co. I-90 Indian Castle Service Area
Madison Co. I-90 Chittenango Service Area
Oneida Co. I-90 Oneida Service Area
Oneida Co. I-90 Rest Area - 3 miles east of Verona
Oneida Co. I-90 Rest Area - 3 miles west of Verona
Onondaga Co. I-90 Warners Service Area
Onondaga Co. I-90 DeWitt Service Area
Seneca Co. I-90 Rest Area - 15 miles west of Weedsport
Earlier this year, the Governor announced other efforts to reduce distracted driving - increasing the penalty for distracted driving from three to five points on a driver's license and signing legislation to increase license suspension and revocation periods for distracted driving on young and new drivers.
State police have also been using Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement (CITE) vehicles to more easily identify motorists who are texting while driving. CITE vehicles are SUVs that have platforms higher than an average vehicle, allowing officers greater ability to see into other vehicles and see people sending text messages.