The proposed legislation would crack down on drivers caught using devices such as blackberrys, iPhones, i-pads, laptop computers, gaming devices and any other portable device, or talking on a cell phone without a hands free device, while driving.
The bill would impose unprecedented penalties drivers caught using such a device by adding three points on a driver's license.
Governor Cuomo's legislation would also make driving while using any portable electronic device a primary, rather than just a secondary offense, meaning that drivers could be stopped solely if they are found to be using such a device while driving.
"Every day, countless drivers, particularly teenagers and young adults, drive with their eyes on a screen rather than the road," Governor Cuomo said. "Distracted driving is nothing less than a lethal activity for the driver themselves, other drivers on the road, and pedestrians."
Current law makes driving while using a portable electronic device only a secondary offense, which means in order for a person to be ticketed for the offense, the driver must have committed a primary enforcement offense such as speeding, disobeying a traffic signal or other violation. The penalty for a violation of this law is a fine of up to $150.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 16% of fatal accidents in 2009 were due to distracted driving and 20% of people injured during a crash were involved in a crash where distracted driving was reported. Meanwhile, a National Insurance study estimated 20% of all drivers, and 66% of drivers aged 18 to 24, are sending or receiving text messages while behind the wheel.