The responsibility of driving a car is not always clearly understood by younger and inexperienced drivers. Teenagers do not always understand that if the vehicle that they are driving is not operated properly, it can be a weapon of destruction. Many young drivers use their cell phones while driving without thinking of the consequences it may bring. The commercials we have seen on television, showing the victims of those stricken by a car while the driver was texting might not be enough to persuade drivers from committing this act. New York State has now made the stakes higher and the consequences more severe.
As of Monday, July 1st, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that would give additional penalties to young drivers possessing a permit and probationary or junior license who are caught using their cell phones while driving. This conviction already carries the consequence of five points on one’s license, points equivalent of reckless driving. In addition, fines are subjected to those who are convicted of this act. The new law passed will now suspend a driver’s license for 60 days if caught improperly using their cellphone while driving, for the first offense. A second conviction within six months will result in a revocation of a probationary license for six months and a junior license for an additional 60 days.
So why is Cuomo taking this so seriously? It was stated by Cuomo in response to this act “We want young drivers to know this is not OK. Inattention and inexperience can lead to a death sentence” Cuomo also stated “Today’s new law sends a powerful message to our young and new drivers that texting-while-driving will not be tolerated here in New York State. Statistic after statistic shows that texting-while-driving is a chronic problem in our society, particularly among teenagers, and it will only get worse if we do not take action to prevent this deadly behavior.”
Statistics have show that the number of cell-phone related crashes have doubled over the past few years. Approximately 6,000 people die each year from a cell-phone related crash, with an additional half a million injuries linked to this type of incident. Ten percent of the time a teenager is operating a vehicle is spent driving in the incorrect lane due to texting while driving. In addition, using a cell phone while driving can slow down a young driver’s reaction time to that of an older person of approximately 70 years old.
For some Long Islanders, this is a law that long overdue. Unfortunately, too many residents have either perished or been injured due to cell-phone related crashes. The question to ask though is why are only young drivers being penalized for this act? Many may argue that drivers of all ages are guilty of using their cell phones while driving. Perhaps the statistics show a stronger prominence within younger drivers, but it must be noted that many drivers, of all age groups, have been guilty of this conviction. It would not be surprising if eventually this law applied to all drivers and not just teenagers.