New N.Y. Law Means Commercial Drivers Will Need to Stall More Than Just Their Vehicles at Stops
While the dangers of texting while operating a moving vehicle are apparent, a new law prohibits commercial drivers driving passengers or cargo through the state of New York from texting or talking on their hand-held phones while stopped at stoplights or in traffic jams. Effective as of October 28th, 2013, the new law carries with it five license points, the same as reckless driving, for violators as well as fines ranging from $50 to $150 for a first-time offense. Three such violations within 18 months can result in license suspension. To learn more about the recent increased penalties for texting while driving in N.Y., visit our texting while driving page.
Though non-commercial drivers are not subject to the same prohibition against texting while stopped on the road, the new law sets New York law regarding commercial drivers on par with federal regulations governing interstate trucking, which, as of 2012, already prohibited commercial drivers from texting or talking on the phone both while driving and while stalled. Other states are sure to soon follow suit in passing similar restrictions, as the new standards for CDL Drivers are required by federal law to be in effect by the end of next year.
Distracted driving accounted for 153 fatal crashes in New York last year. This latest restriction on texting is meant to hold drivers who drive for a profession to a higher standard of safe driving on the road by quelling any temptation to continue texting or talking after a light has turned green or traffic started to flow. The new law does not, however, prevent commercial drivers from engaging in other forms of distraction such as using hands-free cellphones, or two-way or CB radios that require one hand to operate, as studies have shown that these means of communication are far less likely to lead to the type of distracted driving that causes accidents on the road than cell phones.
As New York continues to make a name for itself as the state with the toughest traffic laws in the nation, it may only be a matter of time before non-commercial drivers are likewise subject to laws preventing them from texting or otherwise using their cell phones while stopped on the road.