Nassau County Legislators Kevan Abrahams (D-Hempstead) and Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) announced today that they are launching a multi-point initiative to stop the dangerous practice of texting while driving, which will include urging state lawmakers to toughen the law already on the books and to DOUBLE the current $150 fine.
Abrahams and Jacobs are also reaching out to all high school students to urge them to sign a pledge to never text while driving. The legislators will be visiting high schools throughout Nassau County to spread awareness and to urge all drivers to sign the pledge.
The Nassau lawmakers held a press conference at a Mobil gas station located on a busy corner on Old Country Road in order to illustrate how many motorists driving by ignore the State’s cell phone and texting ban.
“Studies show that one in five drivers is texting while driving,” said Abrahams. “Do you want to be driving near that person on the L.I.E. while they are going 65 mph? I sure don’t. More has to be done to deter drivers, especially young people, to put the phone down while driving.”
“Texting while driving now rivals drinking and driving in terms of danger for teenagers, according to the Liberty Mutual Insurance Group. Fifty percent of teenagers admit to texting while driving,” Abrahams said.
“Unfortunately many people are not heeding the laws on the books, causing great danger to themselves and to those around them,” said Jacobs. “We want to change that by urging our state representatives to support a program bill introduced by the governor that would make New York State's law against texting while driving more effective by raising a violation of the law from a secondary offense to a primary offense.”
The way the current law is written, a police officer can only issue a ticket for a texting violation if that driver has also committed another traffic violation. Since the state law went into effect in 2009, Nassau County law has issued just 18 violations for texting while driving.
“The current law lacks the wallop it needs to make people sit up and listen and to give law enforcement officers the ability to pull a driver over for texting WITHOUT the need for that officer to observe another violation of the law,” Jacobs said.
“We want drivers here in Nassau County to get the message,” Abrahams said. “Drop it. Put the phone down before someone gets hurt.”
Legislators Abrahams and Jacobs are also urging all high school and college students to sign a “No Texting While Driving Pledge”.
Abrahams said that he and Jacobs are also calling on the County Executive to institute a new County policy that bans any cell phone use or texting, including hands-free, by any County employee using a County car, with the exception of law enforcement officers.
“Distracted driving kills,” Jacobs said. “Nassau County has led the way on so many other major health and safety issues in the past. I believe that we can lead the way on this issue by setting an example.”
Jacobs and Abrahams also said they urge parents of young drivers to learn about text disabling applications, such as Textecution and Zoomsafer, which disable a phone when the driver is going more than 10 mph, allowing a driver to only check messages after stopping at a light or pulling over.
“That phone call or text message can wait until you pull over,” Jacobs said. “It’s not worth your life or the life of another person. We all need to be 100 percent focused on driving when we are behind the wheel.”
Abrahams and Jacobs are also reaching out to all high school students urging them to sign a pledge to
never text while driving. Below are Legislator Kevan Abrahams, Legislator Judy Jacobs, Evey Rothman, a
Plainview-Old Bethpage Board Member, and students from the Uniondale High School Jr. ROTC.
(Below)Legislator Kevan Abrahams, students from the Uniondale High School Jr. ROTC, and parents sign the pledge to “Never drive while texting!”