New York Hopes Designated Highway Texting Stops Will Make You Put Phone Down

How many times have you seen a “Rest stop ahead – 10 miles” sign on a long car trip and felt relieved to know that there was coffee and bathroom facilities within reach? New York State is hoping that you will keep your phone at your side and feel similar relief when you see a sign telling you the distance to the next designated texting spot. Will the new signs change drivers’ habits? 

New York, ancestral home of Consumerist, is taking aggressive measures to make its citizens and travelers passing through put their phones down already. Using a device while driving is a primary traffic offense in New York, which means that you don’t need to have a broken tail light or be speeding for the police to stop and ticket you. They just have to see you e-mailing while you merge. That’s the purpose behind the new fleet of SUVs that let state troopers sit up higher and see whether drivers are holding their phones in their laps. The campaign is working: the governor claims that distracted driving tickets are up 365% this summer.

High fines aren’t enough: now the state wants to socially engineer us, too. “Existing Park-n-Ride facilities, rest stops, and parking areas along the Thruway and Highways will dual-function as Texting Zones,” the governor’s press release helpfully tells us. In a smartphone-equipped world, this makes sense: Thruway rest stops already have wi-fi so travelers can conserve their precious mobile data.

Governor Cuomo Unveils “Texting Zones” Along NYS Thruway and Highways for Drivers to Pull Over and Use Their Cell Phones [Press Release]