Texting While Driving Crackdown: One Year Later

By Kelly McCarthy

July 13, 2012 Updated Jul 13, 2012 at 11:34 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Since New York started cracking down on texting-while-driving. Now under a more strict law, officials can pull a car over for that offense alone.

Since last year New York state issued four times as many tickets for texting-while-driving.

More than 1,300 in the surrounding counties, which is five times as many as the year before.

Action News took a ride along with Sgt. Jason Cawley with the state police.

He says when you're out on the roads it does not take long to spot a distracted driver.

He compares the signs of a distracted driver to that of an intoxicated driver.

In a study released by Governor Cuomo those who use a handheld device while driving, are four times more likely to be involved in a crash.

Sgt. Cawley said in order to spot the offenders, they have better luck with a concealed identify vehicle.

"This vehicle, being less identifiable as a state police vehicle will be passed now and again by an aggressive driver having somebody weaving in the lanes or weaving in the lanes to pass. It's a very combative tool in aggressive driving and also in detecting and ticketing for cell phone use," said Sgt. Cawley.

In the past year he does see a greater awareness for safety when it comes to texting.

"The communication is out there. When somebody gets a ticket they pass it along to their friends, their family. When somebody sees an accident that was reported to the news by distracted driving, it brings it to the forefront of everybody's minds," said Sgt. Cawley.

Chenango County saw their tickets numbers increase ten times. In 2010 they issued four tickets, the latest numbers are at 40 tickets.

Lt. Richard Cobb says on the more rural roads the last thing a person should be doing is texting while driving.

"So anything that takes away from your attention for even a splint second from the actual lane of travel makes it more dangerous and again there is less room for error on the narrower roads," said Lt. Cobb.

He would like to see the number of tickets start to decrease in the future.

"You know on our end of it, it's not just to pull somebody over and write a ticket, it's education and enforcement. That's how we hope to change people's behavior," said Lt. Cobb.

For those who are pulled over for texting-while-driving, the stakes are a bit higher now.

They face a stricter penalty that can add two to three points to their license, as well as a fine.