New York Troopers Find New Way to Halt Texters

Texting while driving in New York? Watch out. New York’s state troopers just got handed 32 “tall, unmarked SUVs” to help them look into vehicles zooming along the state’s highways for illegal texters, according to the AP.

Use of any hand-held mobile phone or device, including texting, gaming and browsing while driving is illegal in New York, where violators risk a $50 to $150 fine, plus points docked from their driving record. This goes for bus and taxi drivers, too.New York rebranded a number of rest stops as “Texting Zones,” and encourages drivers to refrain from picking up their mobile while driving with signage, such as “It can wait. Text stop 5 miles,” the AP reported.

The news organization went on a ride-along with a state trooper looking for text violators:

“Look at that,” Trooper Clayton Howell says, pulling alongside a black BMW while patrolling the highways north of New York City. “This guy’s looking down. I can see his thumb on the phone. I think we got him.”

After a quick wail of the siren and a flash of the tucked-away flashers, an accountant from the suburbs is pulled over and politely given a ticket.

More than 3,000 were killed in “distracted driving” incidents last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The organization defines distracted driving as any activity that diverts an individual’s attention from the wheel, including texting or even adjusting the radio.

More than 420,000 were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers, a 9 percent increase from the prior year. Younger drivers, those under 20, are more likely to be involved in such a case.