Niagara Gazette

Local News

September 23, 2013

New state highway signs direct drivers to 'text stops'

ALBANY — New York's Thruway and other major state highways are getting nearly 300 new signs directing drivers to "text stops" as part of a campaign against distracted driving.

The blue signs have messages like "It can wait, text stop 5 miles." They refer to 91 "texting zones" at existing rest stops, parking pull-offs and park-and-ride lots.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the initiative on Monday. His spokesman had no immediate estimate of the signs' cost.

"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," Cuomo said.

Cuomo signed a bill into law in July that boosted the penalty for texting and driving from three to five points on a license. He signed another bill increasing license suspension and revocation periods for young and new drivers convicted of distracted driving.

With increased enforcement this summer, state police issued 21,580 tickets for distracted driving, including talking or texting on a cellphone. In the summer of 2012, 5,208 tickets were issued.

"We told motorists we would be out there looking for violators and we found far too many," State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico said in a prepared statement Monday.

Troopers have been using unmarked SUVs to ferret out drivers who are texting and driving. The vehicles have platforms higher than an average vehicle, allowing officers greater ability to see what other drivers are doing.

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