Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo to Introduce Statewide Distracted Driving Bill With Teeth

Andrew Cuomo said today that he will introduce a bill to toughen state provisions intended to protect people from drivers who text or use portable electronic devices of any sort behind the wheel. The bill closes loopholes and adds stricter penalties for distracted driving, which contributes to more than 10,000 crashes per year in New York state.

In a statement, Cuomo cited research showing that texting drivers exhibit worse reaction times than drunk drivers. "Every day, countless drivers, particularly teenagers and young adults, drive with their eyes on a screen rather than the road," said Cuomo. "Current warnings, educational programs, and driving laws aren’t working. We need to impose a true deterrent to stop people from driving while using an electronic device and to keep our roads and citizens safe."

Advocates applauded the governor's announcement, with Transportation Alternatives calling the Cuomo bill "groundbreaking."

New York's first law aimed at cracking down on texting-while-driving passed in 2009, but it had some serious weaknesses. Among them: a provision inserted by the State Assembly that makes distracted driving a "secondary offense," meaning a citation can only be issued if the driver had been pulled over for another infraction.

The Cuomo bill would make distracted driving a primary offense, increase the number of points added to a perpetrator's license from two to three, and mandate education on the dangers of distracted driving as part of the state's defensive driving curriculum.

The Cuomo bill does stop short of outlawing a very common and socially accepted form of distracted driving: hands-free cell phone use. Talking on a hands-free phone has been shown to impair motorists' cognition as much as talking with a conventional handset.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Friday’s Headlines: The Polk’s on Us Edition

This afternoon, our reporter Jesse Coburn will journey to Midtown to accept Streetsblog's first George Polk Award, one of journalism's highest honors. But before that, here's the news.

April 12, 2024

Op-Ed: Police Placard Corruption Report Was Weak, Disappointing … and Completely Expected

The Department of Investigations clearly had ample evidence of crimes and serious violations, yet its report lets everyone off the hook.

April 12, 2024

City Unveils Design for Long-Decrepit East Harlem Greenway

Nearly two dozen blocks of crumbling greenway along the Harlem River are slated for a revamp in 2025.

April 12, 2024

Thursday’s Headlines: Bike Lanes are Good for Business Edition

A business owner testifies from the heart (and wallet). Plus other news.

April 11, 2024

Environmental Groups Join to Fight Adams’s BQE Reconstruction

Rebuilding the Moses-era highway for another century is not environmental justice.

April 11, 2024
See all posts