New York state to add signs alerting drivers to "text stops"

Claudine Zap
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September 23, 2013-New Baltimore- Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announces new signage on NYS Thruway that re-enforce no texting while driving. (Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo)

In New York, it's better to pull over and tap a message on a phone if you don't want to get pulled over and ticketed for texting while driving.

That's the message Gov. Andrew Cuomo and highway officials are sending to motorists after announcing 300 signs will be placed on state roadways directing drivers to "Texting Zones."

The blue-and-white signs point drivers to 91 existing areas where drivers can pull off the road and safely send messages while the car is parked.

"Distracted driving is a major problem in this state and it is a problem that is getting worse and it is a problem that costs us lives," Cuomo said in a statement to Yahoo News. "One out of 5 accidents today is attributable to distracted driving. Five times more fatalities from distracted driving than from drunk driving, believe it or not."

“With this new effort, we are sending a clear message to drivers that there is no excuse to take your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road because your text can wait until the next Texting Zone,” he added.

The governor also announced a 365 percent increase in tickets issued for distracted driving in summer 2013 compared with summer 2012. New York State Police handed out more than 21,000 tickets in the crackdown. New York is one of 41 states that ban texting while driving.

A national study by AT&T in March noted that more adults admit to texting and driving than teens: 49 percent of adults surveyed, compared with 43 percent of teens, said they engaged in the habit even though 98 percent of the adults that were questioned knew the habit was a dangerous practice.

A similar study in 2011 from the Centers for Disease Control found that 31 percent of adults aged 18-64 admitted to having read or sent text and email messages while driving.