New York City announced this week that tickets to drivers caught texting increased by 50%. The City wrote 47,914 texting violations in 2014, up from 31,835 in 2013. Statewide the jump wasn’t as pronounced but still significant at a 35% increase. These tickets carry a max fine of $450 and add 5 points to a person’s license.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio points to increased traffic enforcement as part of his Vision Zero initiative. While New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has made an effort to crack down on what he views as “reckless driving”. Certainly reckless driving should not be tolerated and it is the responsibility of law enforcement to provide safe roads for everyone. What the public needs to know however, especially for fleet managers and truck drivers is that this 5 point violation does not apply just for the dangerous act of texting while driving. The official charge is “driving while operating a portable electronic device”. This means that if a person is driving with a phone, or a GPS device in one hand it is a 5 point violation. A driver may not even be looking at the device in question as long as it is being held the violation is valid. Driver’s and managers need to know this because the stats are in. Law enforcement is on the prowl for these violations and obviously 5 points can endanger licenses and jobs.