Rest Stops? We Don’t Need No Stinking Rest Stops!
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York has long been campaigning for a crackdown on texting-and-driving cases. If the number of tickets issued for distracted driving is the metric he’s looking for, he’s clearly winning. New York upped its number of distracted driving tickets for texting from 924 between July 4 – September 2, 2012 to a whopping 5,553 for the same period this year.
The newest stage in his plan, unveiled in a press conference Monday, is the rebranding of the state’s thruway and highway rest areas as “Texting Zones.” The locations themselves haven’t changed –you can still pull over for a much-needed snooze, some vending machine food or a potty break– but the state is adding 298 signs to its roadsides advertising these stops as Texting Zones.
“IT CAN WAIT/TEXT STOP/5 MILES” reads one of the signs displayed behind Gov. Cuomo at his press conference, also tying it in to the “It Can Wait” campaign currently running from various cell phone and insurance providers. Gov. Cuomo is also implementing tougher penalties for distracted drivers, signing legislation which increased license suspension periods/revocation periods for young drivers, as well as utilizing police officers in unmarked Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement (CITE) SUVs to aid in spotting distracted drivers.
Is He Onto Something?
Personally, I’m not sure how useful these new stops will be in decreasing distracted drivers. I’ve never driven in NY (mostly because I’ve only ever been to NYC, and god help you if you try to drive defensively in that town), but if I can commit a logical fallacy and transpose Ohio’s thruways and highways for New York’s, I’m gonna say these rest stops are not close. Just driving from Cincinnati to Athens –a 3-hour drive from roughly the southwestern-most point to the southeastern-most point of the state– there’s one rest area about 40 minutes from Cincinnati, one midway between the two, and one ten minutes outside of Athens. And the rest area in the middle has no cell service of any kind.
So if this idea spreads to states that don’t have rest areas every ten miles, will it be that effective? What do you think, folks? Are texting zones what the country needs? Or is this another “you can’t legislate idiocy” debate?