Texting while driving to bring fine in Schenectady County
SCHENECTADY COUNTY Those tiny buttons on cellphones are hard to see while you’re driving.
And since the number pads often contain several letters, it can take multiple clicks to get the right letter before moving onto the next when you’re sending a text message.
Indeed, one of the toughest parts about sending a text message while driving is having to look back up through the windshield to make sure the car is still on the road.
Starting on Sunday, law enforcers in Schenectady County will make it easier for motorists to resist sending a text message while driving. Getting caught doing so will produce a $150 ticket.
Schenectady’s law is one of numerous laws municipalities nationwide are implementing or reviewing with the goal of making the roadways safer.
“If anything, we wanted to at least bring awareness to the dangers of it,” said Joe McQueen, director of communications for Schenectady County.
“It’s not that [police are] going to be out there looking for every driver to see what they’re doing; the belief is people will gradually start to realize the dangers. We have to change as technology changes,” McQueen said.
The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors considered a countywide ban last week but voted it down.
Amsterdam town Supervisor Thomas DiMezza said discussion on the ban focused on who would be responsible for enforcement. Some believe the county attorney has to prosecute county-based local laws, DiMezza said.
DiMezza said that in his opinion, legislators should pass a law statewide.
“Put it in the vehicle and traffic law and everybody can enforce it,” DiMezza said.
According to a press release from the Schenectady County Legislature, several other counties have already passed such bans, including Westchester, Suffok and Nassau.
In Albany County, a similar law will be the subject of a March 24 public hearing, and final action by the county Legislature is expected on April 13.
Several bills aimed at banning text messaging while driving are also being reviewed by the state Legislature.
One bill under review in both the state Senate and Assembly would modify the current statewide law against talking on a cellphone without a hands-free device in a vehicle to include a prohibition on texting.
It would also add an educational requirement to the law calling for cellphone safety to be part of the pre-licensing requirements.
The bill asks that the Department of Motor Vehicles develop a curriculum for pre-licensing to teach aspiring drivers about the law regarding driving and using cellphones in addition to explaining the dangers of driving while distracted, according to the bill.
The bill was sent to the Legislature’s Transportation Committee on Feb. 24.