Protections from distracted driving sought in New York

| 5/3/2006

A bill that would make inattentive driving a traffic infraction is once again up for consideration in the New York Assembly.

Sponsored by Assemblyman David Gantt, D-Rochester, the bill was introduced during the 2005 legislative session but failed to move forward. The measure was reintroduced earlier this year.

Similar efforts were brought up in the previous two sessions, only to stall in committees.

This year’s version defines inattentive driving as a non-driving activity that “unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway.”

Any person who interferes with the flow of traffic as a result of inattentive driving would face a fine between $50 and $250. Any person found guilty of three inattentive driving violations during an 18-month period would be guilty of reckless driving.

The measure lists five examples of inattentive activities while driving:

  • Sleeping;
  • Smoking;
  • Eating;
  • Faxing; and
  • Reading.

Gantt’s bill – A3518 – is in the Assembly Codes Committee.

It isn’t the only highway safety-related effort this year in the New York Legislature.

A bill in the Senate would forbid drivers from watching videos while behind the wheel.

State law already prohibits drivers from watching any video monitoring device that is located in front of the back of the driver’s seat – regardless of whether the device interferes with safe driving.

Sponsored by Sen. Carl Marcellino, R-Syosset, the bill would amend the law to prohibit satellite video entertainment broadcasts, VCR or DVD transmissions or replays, or any other similar video entertainment presentations located within the driver’s view.

The bill would provide an exception if the equipment is disabled while the vehicle is in motion. It would also exempt global positioning and navigational display systems.

Marcellino’s bill – S1310 – is awaiting consideration on the floor of the Senate. If approved, it would move to the Assembly.