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

A 2006 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that nearly 80 percent of accidents, along with 65 percent of near-accidents, involved some form of driver distraction within three seconds. According to a AAA survey that was featured in Seventeen magazine, 47 percent of teens admitted to text messaging and driving. Research conducted by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company has shown that 20 percent of drivers are sending and receiving text messages while driving, and Zogby found that 66 percent of those drivers are young -- between the ages of 18 and 24.

"Even among people who do [text and drive], they think there should be a law against it," said Savage.

Schenectady County is joining a growing number of regions to propose laws that prohibit text messaging and driving. Monroe County recently proposed a ban, and Westchester and Suffolk counties have passed bans. Alaska, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey and Washington state have all passed statewide bans.

"It's something I've wanted to do for a while. [The ban] could be enacted as soon as December," said Savage.

Offenders would be fined $150, according to Buffardi.

"I would like to see the state adopt a law that had to do with driver inattention, which would apply to other things. I think it's just as dangerous for someone to apply their makeup or shave or try to read the newspaper as it is to talk on the telephone [while driving]," said Buffardi. "If there was a driver inattention law enacted, it would be useful, but I'm glad the County Legislature stepped up to the plate with this.""

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