With police now having additional penalties to impose for driving and texting, authorities are looking hard for distracted young people on the roads this summer.
New state legislation stiffening the penalties for young people texting while driving kicked in on Monday when Governor Cuomo signed a bill into law. The law increases the penalties for texting at the wheel, a behavior studies say is especially common among young people, inexperienced drivers who can be potentially fatally distracted by their phones.
Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard says his deputies handle too many accidents blamed on distracted driving.
"We've had way too many of those kinds of accidents and it's totally preventable. Just pull over and send your text or have somebody else in the car doing it for you. The penalties, the loss of your license or suspension of your license, is certainly better than the loss of your life. So, if that's what it's going to take to get people to stop doing it, then so be it," Howard says.
This holiday weekend is the start of an Albany push to control texting and driving with $1 million set aside for enforcement efforts, especially from State Police. Troopers will be out in unmarked cars going after both texting and using cell phones at the wheel.
Troopers will also be using Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement Vehicles, high-profile vehicles that allow them to look down and see what drivers are doing.
Sheriff Howard is advising parents to watch the example they are setting for their children when they use cell phones while driving.