It has been 10 years since 20-year-old West Seneca native A.J. Larson lost his life in a texting-while-driving accident. In remembrance, the New York State Thruway is displaying a “Don’t Text While Driving. It's the Law.” reminder on digital signs in hopes of saving other lives.
"During this sad time, my family and I would again like to implore people to stop texting-while-driving," said Kelly Cline, A.J.'s mother, who fought to make texting while driving illegal in New York State. "It is the law because it is a dangerous habit that needs to end. Think of your safety and the safety of those around you. Stop and think of the lives that could be forever altered because of your decision to text while driving. Then make the right decision and put your phone down.”
State Sen. Tim Kennedy said New York has come a long way, but there is more work to do.
"People continue to text and drive," Kennedy said. "They continue to look at their electronic devices while they're behind the wheel, putting themselves, their passengers, other vehicles at risk and individuals, drivers, passengers at risk by the thousands. So we just have to continue to get the message out there."
With millions expected to hit the road over the holiday season, Kennedy said this reminder is especially critical. According to the AAA of Western and Central New York, distracted driving occurs in 6 out of 10 deadly crashes involving teen drivers and 16 percent of all fatal crashes, leading to approximately 5,000 deaths every year.
Kennedy said Erie County was one of the first counties in the nation to ban texting while driving in 2009, which turned into a 2011 law for New York State.