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AAA Applauds NYS for Strengthening Texting while Driving Law


New regulation means stricter enforcement for drivers, Club advocated for change

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Representatives from AAA Western and Central New York were in attendance this morning as New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo held a ceremonial signing of new legislation making the use of handheld electronic devices while driving a primary traffic offense. The event took place at Erie Community College’s South Campus. AAA was a leading advocate for the change in the law.

“With nearly two trillion text messages sent last year, texting represents the most dangerous form of distracted driving,” said Thomas Hoy, President of AAA New York State, a consortium of five AAA Clubs in New York. “We applaud the Governor and lawmakers for stiffening the consequences for those who jeopardize the rest of us with their careless conduct.”

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, most people view texting while driving as a very serious threat to their own personal safety and consider it completely unacceptable. However, many drivers don’t perceive social disapproval from others. Nearly one in four drivers (24 percent) admits to texting or emailing while driving.

“Text messaging while driving presents a clear and persistent danger to all motorists,” said Kerry Donnelly, Assistant Manger of AAA Western and Central New York Driver Training. “AAA consistently teaches our members the importance of eliminating distractions, like talking and texting, for the safety of all roadway users.”

According to the law, a driver can now be stopped for holding an electronic device and composing, sending, reading, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving, or retrieving electronic data such as e-mail, text messages or web pages; viewing, taking or transmitting images; or playing games. The law does not penalize drivers using an electronic device that is affixed to a surface, such as a GPS unit. Additionally, motorists that are communicating or attempting to communicate with law enforcement or medical personnel during an emergency are exempt.

Previous legislation only allowed law enforcement to stop a driver for another violation if seen texting while driving, since classified as a secondary traffic offense. The new legislation also increased the driving record penalty for using a handheld device while driving from two to three points; eleven points equals license suspension or revocation. The fine for violation of this law continues to be up to $150.

In 2009, AAA launched a 50-state campaign to pass laws prohibiting motorists from text messaging while driving. Currently, 34 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws addressing this dangerous behavior.

For information on AAA’s Driver Training services, visit or call (800) 836-2582.

As Upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA provides nearly 880,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at


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