WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Special "Texting Zones" are coming to I-684 in Bedford and I-87 in Ardsley in Westchester and to several highways around the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.
Cuomo announced the new texting zones Monday that will be posted at New York State Thruway and State Highways and "will give motorists a pull-off area to park and use their mobile devices," according to a press release from the governor's office. The texting zones will be part of existing Park-n-Ride facilities, rest stops and parking areas along the highways and a total of 298 signs across the state will notify drivers of the 91 texting zones, according to the release.
Cuomo also announced a 35 percent increase in tickets issued this summer compared to summer 2012 for distracted driving, according to the release, which was "a result of an extensive enforcement crackdown by the State Police." State Police issued 21,580 tickets over the summer, compared to last summer's total of 5,208 tickets, according to the release.
“New York State is continuing to use every tool at its disposal to combat texting-while-driving,” Cuomo said in the release. “In addition to tougher penalties, new detection methods for State Police and ongoing public outreach efforts, we are now launching special Texting Zones to allow motorists to pull over and use their phones. These zones will be identified with signs along the thruway and state highways, reminding drivers that there is a nearby opportunity for them to legally and safely use their phone. 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.”
Safety is the first priority for the Thruway Authority and 2012 was the safest year in the organization's 60 year history, said Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas J. Madison in the release.
"We are always looking at new and better ways to make the highway even safer, and Governor Cuomo’s Text Stops initiative is an excellent way for drivers to stay in touch while recognizing the dangers of using mobile devices while driving,” Madison said in the release.
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said the new campaign was "sending a clear message to motorists: It can wait," according to the release.
"There is no text that is important enough to jeopardize a life, and anyone caught texting while driving will face stiff penalties," McDonald said in the release. "I want to thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership to fight distracted driving and make our roads safe for all users.”