Fight To End Texting While Driving Gains Steam In Westchester

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced texting zones at I-684 and I-87 in Westchester in an effort to curb texting while driving. Photo Credit: File Photo
Jacy Good is the founder of Hang Up and Drive. Good's parents were killed and Good was severely injured in an accident caused by distracted driving. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jacy Good

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Imagine driving a car and closing your eyes for five seconds.

According to Jacy Good and Steve Johnson, who run White Plains-based Hang Up and Drive, that is the equivalent of sending a text message while driving.

Good started Hang Up and Drive after her parents were killed in a car accident caused by a man talking on his phone. Good survived, though she suffered a traumatic brain injury and is unable to use her left arm or lower leg and has minor lingering cognitive issues.

"When you're texting or talking on the phone, you're not really paying attention to the road," Good said. "Just talking on your phone causes six times as many accidents."

Good said she wanted to use her story to prevent what happened to her and her parents to happening to someone else. 

"People have to make up their mind that they are only going to focus on driving when they drive," Good said. 

Schools throughout Westchester have also focused on warning teens against texting while driving. Pleasantville High School, for instance,l has a Drive Smart program.

Good delivers presentations at schools, recently speaking at Ossining High School to tell her story.

"Kids are really starting to get it," Good said. "The problem isn't solved, but high schoolers can and will do something about it. My story is so awful, my life was destroyed. It really has an impact on the audience."

Last September, the state announced special texting zones were being installed at I-684 in Bedford and I-87 in Ardsley to reduce texting while driving.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced  a 35-percent increase in tickets issued this summer compared to the summer 2012 for distracted driving, a result of extensive enforcement crackdown by state police.

According to the governor's office, state police issued 21,580 tickets over the summer, compared to last summer's total of 5,208 tickets.

Westchester County passed a law banning texting while driving five years ago. Legislator Peter Harckham, who supported the law, said texting while driving has the same accident rate as a DWI.

"It's an incredibly dangerous thing to do," Harckham said. "It's dangerous to the driver, it's dangerous to pedestrians and it's dangerous to others on the road."

Good's goal is to remind people that a text message or phone call can wait.

"No message is more important than your life or someone else's life," Good said.

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Comments (5)

JS84:

If texting is as dangerous as DWI then apply the same penalties.
lose your license and your phone.

Activist Bill:

JS, I agree with you, but I think there should be further penalizing. All states should get together on honoring a suspended or revoked license and not allow the person the obtain another license in a neighboring state.

ErikWood:

Text and Drive recently became the #1 killer of teens in the US - more lethal than drunk driving. I think its starting to become clear that legislation has value in raising public awareness in forums like this one but it will be difficult to solely legislate our way out of this issue. I also read that over 3/4 of teens text daily - many text more than 4000 times a month. New college students no longer have email addresses! They use texting and Facebook - even with their professors. Tweens (ages 9 -12) send texts to each other from their bikes. Technology needs to be part of the solution and not dismissed as the villain.

I decided to do something about distracted driving after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver. Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user, I built a texting asset called OTTER that is a simple and intuitive GPS based, texting auto reply app for smartphones. While driving, OTTER silences those distracting call ringtones and chimes unless a bluetooth is enabled. The texting auto reply allows anyone to schedule a ‘texting blackout period’ in any situation like a meeting or a lecture without feeling disconnected. This software is a social messaging tool for the end user that also empowers this same individual to be a sustainably safer driver.

Erik Wood, owner
OTTER apps (Since 2010. Free)
do one thing well... be great.

Skinnyhead:

I see more adults doing the text and drive than kids.

RuthMendes:

When I get a call in the car, I pull over to answer the phone. If I am at home and someone calls me while they are driving. I tell them I'm hanging up and they should call me back when they are not driving. This is not rocket science!

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