New N.Y. penalties, suspensions in effect

New York drivers who text message or use handheld cell phones are looking at new maximum fines for the offenses. Young and new drivers, meanwhile, are flirting with a yearlong loss of their licenses for electronic distracted driving violations. "Driving habits are developed early, and we are sending a message that texting while driving is unsafe, unacceptable and downright dangerous," Gov. Andrew Cuomo (pictured) said in announcing the tougher distracted driving penalties and suspensions. "There have been far too many avoidable tragedies due to texting while driving, and with these new … [Read more...]

Mississippi ‘careless’ with texting

Faced with more than a dozen bills seeking an end to texting & driving in Mississippi, lawmakers cut the field to two plans -- neither packing much of a punch. The Senate on Feb. 5 approved a plan to include text messaging while driving as a type of careless driving. The fine would start at $5, but without the usual fees connected with a traffic offense. The maximum fine would be $50. The bill also would outlaw use of social media web sites. SB 2434 now advances to the House, which has long reluctant to support distracted driving legislation. What appears to be the main texting & … [Read more...]

11 states flash red for safety laws

Eleven states are "dangerously behind" in adopting highway safety laws, according to an advocacy group's annual report. The states include Florida, Arizona, Nebraska and Alabama. Also making the group's dumb-and-dumber list are South Dakota, Mississippi, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Wyoming. South Dakota ranked as the worst in the nation in terms of "optimal" laws. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety graded all 50 states and the District of Columbia on 15 basic traffic safety laws. It assigns a rating of green, yellow or red to each state. The 2014 "Roadmap … [Read more...]

Teens quick to pick up distractions

Newly licensed teens start out paying close attention to the road but quickly turn into distracted drivers, according to a new study. Multitasking behaviors such as talking on cell phones and eating while behind the wheel peak about a year and a half after the teens begin to drive, the study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute researchers suggested. "Novice drivers are more likely to engage in high-risk secondary tasks more frequently over time as they became more comfortable with driving," said Charlie Klauer, group leader of teen risk at the institute. "This appears to be an … [Read more...]

The year in distracted driving: 2013

The year 2013 saw plenty of action on the distracted driving front -- from the legislatures to the courts to the streets. The year started with a bang as the nation's No. 1 fighter of distracted driving stepped down. Here's a look back: LaHood says he's leaving (Jan. 29): U.S. Department of Transportation chief Ray LaHood confirms he's stepping down from his Cabinet-level post. The move, while expected, was widely seen as a blow to the fight against distracted driving at the national level. LaHood, left, detailed a string of DOT achievements during his tenure, beginning with the efforts to … [Read more...]