R5 Sending the Wrong Message

On June 28th, Bailey Goodman was driving her SUV on a windy road in Ontario County, New York. She crashed into an oncoming truck killing herself and four friends, all of whom were high-school cheerleaders. The suspected cause of death: text messaging while driving. Only three weeks after the horrible accident, Carl Marcellino, a New-York-State Senator from Long Island who has served Suffolk and Nassau counties for more than a decade, introduced the state’s first anti-texting-while-driving law. The aim: to “prohibit the writing, sending, or reading of text messages on mobile phones while driving.”

In a county where the government has already enacted a program to provide text alerts in the event of an emergency, it is hard to argue that messaging isn’t a part of most residents’ lives. But should the ability to connect instantaneously using typed words while motoring along county highways and byways be banned in the same way talking while behind the wheel is?

New York State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer who represents the state’s 37th district (Eastern Westchester) seems to think so. “If we’re going to ban talking on the phone, it’s a no-brainer to ban texting,” she said. “When texting, you have to look at what you’re reading.” Westchester County Police Inspector Roger Rokicki agrees. He says that the county police “endorse any prohibition against any distraction while driving, be it talking, reading a newspaper, wearing earphones, or texting. Anything that will distract is dangerous.”

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Senator Oppenheimer and Chief Inspector Rokicki are in good company in their support of the anti-texting law. According to a recent Harris Interactive Survey, 89% of Americans believe texting while driving is dangerous, even though 66% of those who responded to the poll admit to doing it. Despite the support, if New York passes Senator Marcellino’s anti-texting law, it would be only the second state in the country to enact such a law, following Washington.

So what do you think? Should texting while driving be banned or does it provide the police just another excuse to harass motorists? Let us know at comments@westchestermagazine.com.



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