Texting while driving: A new law considered in NY

Texting while driving: A new law considered in NY
Posted at: 02/28/2008 05:24:27 PM
Updated at: 02/28/2008 05:25:48 PM
By: Matt McFarland

Talking on your cell phone while driving is illegal in New York and four other states. Now some New York State lawmakers want to add texting. State Police say distracted driving is the number one cause of all car crashes, and can be deadly.
Being able to multi-task is usually considered a good thing, but texting while driving can be a deadly combination.
According to a Zogby Poll, many are not concentrating or even paying much attention while driving. Two out of three 18 to 24 year olds admit they text while behind the wheel.
Phone records from last June in Rochester indicate a 17 year old driver's phone was being used to text when she swerved into oncoming traffic. Five teenage girls were killed, their families plunged into a lifetime of grief, but horror stories like this have changed behavior.
"In a month, I probably do 1500 text messages. That's no lie," says 20 year old Tim Arnold.
We asked Arnold and 18 year old Lauren Numrich to join us at the State Police Academy driving course to help us see just how dangerous it is to text and drive at the same time.
We asked them to weave their way in and out of cones while we sent them text messages, interrupting their driving concentration.
All it takes is a split second. One hand on the wheel, the other on their phone, thumb frantically searching for the right key, eyes darting back and forth.
It was easy for Tim and Lauren to be dangerously distracted.
"You really need two hands on the wheel and only being able to have one hand to read and write back made it a lot harder," said Lauren.
We asked them to respond to texts like, where do you live, what's your birth date, avoiding one word answers.
"I just hit every single one of the cones, oh my gosh. Did you respond yet? Nope," said Lauren.
State Police say that proves their point.
"Somebody jumps in front of your car, makes an unsafe lane change in front of you. If you're not concentrating on the road, it's hard enough to react anyway. If you are concentrating on a text instead of the road, it becomes almost impossible," said State Police Sergeant Matt Daley.
It's no big deal if you misspell a word while texting and it's even understandable if that happens while you're driving, but make an error behind the wheel while texting and you might not get to send another message.
There are currently two versions of a bill in the state legislature. If one passes and you get caught texting while driving, you'd be looking at a $100 fine.