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Texting while driving? Long Island DA wants to disable your phone

On Long Island, drivers hooked on their phones could soon see new penalties for distracted driving.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice has proposed the use of a “kill switch” to disable the phone of someone who has been convicted of texting while driving.

The suggestion came as part of a five-point plan to decrease the rate of texting while driving in New York. Rice wrote to Google, Apple, Microsoft and Blackberry to request that they use third-party applications to prevent drivers from texting.

Rice did not recommend any specific technology solution, but her office said it was researching different options.

“The DA’s office does not endorse any particular company and is in the process of reviewing specific solutions based on their features and services,” a press release stated.

Rice also proposed incentives for drivers, suggesting that auto insurance agencies give lower costs to customers whose phones have this technology. She also said that courts could institute a special plea program for young drivers that use it.

Rice stressed the danger of texting while driving. “Research suggests that driving while texting can be as dangerous as driving while drunk, and even more pervasive, especially among young people,” she said.

20 percent of drivers have reported sending texts while driving, and that number is much higher for drivers of ages 18-24, half of whom reported texting while driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They also reported that, at any given moment during daylight, there are 660,000 people using phones while driving.

The penalty for texting while driving varies by state, but New York amped up the punishment for doing so last year. A driver who is convicted could face fines and receive five points on their license, and new drivers could have their licenses suspended, according to the New York State DMV.

Distracted drivers are 23 times more likely to experience a crash than drivers that are not distracted, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

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