A new New York State law with harsher penalties for texting while driving could help to increase safety on the roads.

A recent front-page article in the Elmira Star-Gazette delivered some excellent news; in fact, the headline says it all: “Tickets for Texting Soar.” Indeed, under a recent law, drivers caught using electronic devices while driving could face a $150 fine and three points on their driver’s licenses.

In the article, Barbara Fiala, commissioner of the state Department of Motor Vehicles, said, “We currently have one of the strongest anti-distracted-driving laws in the country.” Last July, a state law made texting a primary offense, meaning that a police officer could pull someone over if the officer suspected texting behind the wheel. And in a state where more than 570 tickets were issued in Chemung and Steuben County alone for cell phone and texting violations over the past 7 months, taking even greater measures to crack down on distracted driving will, true to Ms. Fiala’s words, help to better ensure our local status as having one of the “strongest”- and safest- “anti-distracted-driving laws in the country.”

As an accident attorney, I could not support this new law more. Cell phones- and the temptation to use them while driving- are a prevalent part of everyday life. This legislation and the penalties it will inflict are a wonderful reminder of just how important it is to drive safely and just how much one can stand to lose by driving distracted (and, as I see on a regular basis, it is a lot more than a $150 fine!).

The article included an especially poignant statistic: according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 5,400 people were killed and almost 450, 000 were injured nationwide in crashes involving distracted-driving in 2009. What these incredible statistics may not portray, however, is the depth of the suffering for those involved. The legislators behind the new texting and driving law made their decision about the specifics for the new law after hearing testimony from local officials and residents, including Jacy Good. Miss Good, of White Plains, lost her parents and the use of one arm in a 2008 Pennsylvania distracted driving crash. She missed her parents’ funeral because she was in a coma.

Please learn from Miss Good’s story. If hearing about the suffering of distracted driving accident victims is not enough, instead take heed from the potential penalties of this new law. It will save lives- and hopefully bring a sense of justice to people like Jacy Good.


Thanks, Christina

Christina Bruner Sonsire, Esq.
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, New York 14902-1338
Office: 607.733.8866
Toll-Free: 800.ZIFFLAW (943.3529)
Blog: NYInjuryLawBlog.com