County legislature wants to put a stop on text messaging while driving

Ninety-five years ago when windshield wiper blades were invented, people feared they would pose a danger for drivers who would be hypnotized by the back-and-forth motion of the blades.

They had no idea what was coming.

These days, it isn't unusual to see drivers busily tapping away on their Blackberries or cell phones, but those living in or passing through Schenectady County will want to refrain from texting while driving if a proposed law banning such activities passes the County Legislature.

On Thursday, Oct. 23, chairwoman of the Schenectady County Legislature Susan Savage, D-Niskayuna, proposed the law, which would ban text messaging while driving. If passed, offenders could face fines as early as December.

"We want to put something in place before one of these communities has a fatality," said Savage.

County lawmakers said they hope the legislation would raise awareness among drivers about the hazards of driving while text messaging.

"Before the New York state seatbelt law, most drivers knew it was a good idea to wear one, but only 17 percent of drivers were motivated to change their old habits," said Savage in a written statement. "Now, 89 percent of drivers in New York state wear their seatbelts."

This proposed law comes in the wake of a reports of a growing number of accidents related to text messaging while driving motor vehicles, and in the case of the deadly commuter rail crash in Los Angeles -- while operating a train. In June 2007, five Upstate teens died in a car crash. Authorities ruled that the cause of the crash was most likely due to the driver text messaging.

"I definitely feel texting is very dangerous to do while driving. It contributes to driver inattention, and is quite trendy," said Schenectady County Sheriff Harry Buffardi. "I think that any law to prohibit [cell phone text messaging and driving] would be useful."

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