Bill S1351-2011

Relates to driving while using a portable electronic device

Relates to driving while using a portable electronic device; removes the requirement that there be reasonable cause a person using the device has committed a violation to issue a summons.







An act to amend the vehicle and traffic law, in relation to the use of portable electronic devices


This bill would increase highway safety by making the ban on using portable electronic devices while driving a primary offense.


Section 1 of this bill would amend Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) § 1225-d(6) by deleting language requiring that a summons for operating a motor vehicle while using a portable electronic device can only be issued when the driver has also committed another traffic violation.

Section 2 of this bill provides for an immediate effective date.


Currently, VTL § 1225-d prohibits a driver from using a portable electronic device such as a cell phone, or texting, while operating a motor vehicle. However, a violation is subject to only secondary enforcement; that is, a motorist cannot be stopped and issued a summons for the sole reason of using a portable electronic device. Instead, a driver can only be stopped if he or she has also committed another traffic violation.


Distracted driving is a major safety concern. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 16% of fatal accidents in 2008 were due to distracted driving. Text messaging while driving is especially dangerous and prevalent. According to a Nationwide Insurance study, an estimated 20% of all drivers, and 66% of drivers aged 18 to 24, are sending or receiving text messages while behind the wheel. A recently released study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that truck drivers who were texting were 23 times more at risk of a crash or near crash, while another study compared reaction times when a driver was texting to when a drive"r was intoxicated, and found that the reaction times while texting were worse.

As these studies make clear, any kind of distraction while driving is dangerous, and texting while driving is one of the most dangerous distractions possible. Although VTL § 1225-d prohibits texting and the use of a portable electronic device while driving, it only provides for secondary enforcement. As a result, State Troopers and other law enforcement officers are barred from stopping and ticketing a driver for speaking on a cell phone or texting alone. Instead, they must wait for the driver to break yet another traffic law, perhaps causing an accident or putting other drivers in danger, before taking action. This not only makes our highways more dangerous, but it handcuffs law enforcement officers and prevents them from doing their job as effectively as possible.

This bill will take the handcuffs off our law enforcement officers and make our highways safer by making a violation of VTL § 1225-d a primary offense, thereby allowing officers to stop a motorist who is using a portable electronic device without having to observe another violation of the law.


2009/10: S.6992/A.10063 - Died on 3rd Reading/Passed Assembly


This bill will have no fiscal impact.


This bill will have no local impact.

EFFECTIVE DATE : This bill would take effect immediately.


STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 1351 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE January 6, 2011 ___________
Introduced by Sens. DILAN, DIAZ, HASSELL-THOMPSON, KLEIN, VALESKY -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Transportation AN ACT to amend the vehicle and traffic law, in relation to the use of portable electronic devices THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision 6 of section 1225-d of the vehicle and traffic law, as added by chapter 403 of the laws of 2009, is amended to read as follows: 6. A violation of this section shall be a traffic infraction and shall be punishable by a fine of not more than one hundred fifty dollars. [Provided, however, that a summons for operating a motor vehicle in violation of this section shall only be issued when there is reasonable cause to believe that the person operating such motor vehicle has committed a violation of the laws of this state other than a violation of this section.] S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.


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