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No distractions while driving on the highway

Text no more while behind the wheel, or else. That is the message from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who signed a law last week toughening the enforcement of a ban on texting while driving.The much needed measure is a lifesaver, no doubt about it, as according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2009 one out of every six fatal accidents was caused by distracted driving.While many thought there was nothing worse than drivers talking on cell phones, drivers taking their eyes completely off the road to send text messages is even more dangerous. This new legislation will allow law enforcement to pull over distracted drivers for doing just that. Previously drivers who texted were seen as committing a secondary offense, which meant they could only be pulled over if they also committed a first offense, such as speeding. Similarly, use of handheld electronic devices is also banned.The fine for texting while driving continues to be $150, but instead of only getting two points on one’s license, drivers will now receive three points. The increase in points also goes for drivers talking on their cell phones, which is more good news. And for those who live, work or visit the city, taxi cab drivers are also banned from using cell phones in their work vehicles. Drivers with 11 points in an 18-month span run the risk of losing their license.Considering how dangerous driving on today’s roads really is, with all of the distractions of modern life — the stress of work, home and family, the intrusion of cell phones, iPads and iPods, and just traffic alone, with road construction and other delays — it’s a marvel people are able to get anywhere in one piece. Texting is certainly not needed in the mix. It’s the ultimate distraction and a complete interference when 100 percent of one’s attention should be on the road. It’s not only unsafe for the driver, it’s unsafe for his or her passengers and for all other drivers he or she may be sharing the road with. It’s also dangerous for anybody else nearby, be it pedestrians, cyclists, skaters, skateboarders — whomever.The governor and state lawmakers were right on target when they approved this law. It makes good sense and could end up saving countless lives. Texting while driving is dangerous and banning it crucial — providing legislation that allows the law to ramp up enforcement will help make the roads safer for everyone. JWD (Job well done).

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