Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this week that dozens of "texting zones" will be installed along New York's highways in a bid to remind drivers to leave their devices alone while on the road.
The zones, 91 in total, give motorists areas to park and use their mobile devices along New York's Thruway and highways. In addition, 298 signs -- in bright blue -- will inform motorists how far along the next zone is. In a news release, Cuomo said:
"With this new effort, we are sending a clear message to drivers that there is no excuse to take your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road because your text can wait until the next Texting Zone."
County locations for the new signs include Albany, Clinton, Essex, Orange and Ontario.
In 2011, New York City regulators tweaked driving and texting laws. From July this year, texting drivers caught in the act may have to pay a maximum $150 fine and license suspension for 60 days, while repeat offenders may have to pay up to $400.
The governor said there has been a 365 percent increase in tickets issued this summer -- in comparison with last year -- for distracted driving. A total of 21,580 tickets have been issued, in comparison to 5,208 tickets in 2012.
Since Cuomo took office in 2011, he has imposed a number of harsh penalties to try and combat the practice of texting while driving. New measures include increasing the penalty for distracted driving from three to five points on their license, as well as increasing license suspension and revocation periods for distracted driving on young and new drivers.
Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico said:
"Our top priority is keeping motorists and pedestrians safe on New York's roadways and the new distracted driving law has helped us to do our job better. We told motorists we would be out there looking for violators and we found far too many. The accidents that result from the use of hand held devices are completely avoidable which is why we will continue to target distracted drivers who engage in this dangerous activity."
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