Legislator Wieder: ‘Proud To Partner With Sheriff’s Department In Effort To Help Save Lives’

New City, NY – Rockland County Legislators are stepping up to help fight the increase in a dangerous trend: young people who are texting while driving – with the distraction leading to accidents and fatalities.

“I am proud to partner with the Sheriff’s Department in this effort because it can really help to save lives,” Legislator Aron B. Wieder said. “Technology is changing so rapidly, and as a society, we must step up our efforts to address the new challenges it presents to us. Unfortunately, texting while driving is one of the issues.”

Legislators have backed the purchase of a driving simulator to be used by law enforcement for training and to teach youth about the dangers of texting while driving, as well as distracted driving changes in general.

The resolution was first vetted through the committee process, including review by the Public Safety Committee, which is chaired by Wieder.

Legislators voted 14-0 Wednesday to transfer $10,000 from the Legislature’s program costs line to the Sheriff’s budget for the specific purpose of allowing the driving simulator to be purchased. The total cost for the simulator is $26,525. Another $10,000 is coming from the Sheriff’s budget and $6,525 is coming from private donations received by the county’s Traffic Safety Board Foundation.

Distracted driving killed 3,477 people and injured another 391,000 in 2015, according the latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Overall, distracted driving was responsible for 10 percent of all fatal crashes and 15 percent of injury crashes in 2015, according to the NHTSA.

A total of 442 fatal crashes were reported to have involved cell phone use as a distraction, representing 14 percent of all distraction-affected crashes. The cell phone incidents include talking to, listening to or otherwise manipulating (dialing or texting) a cell phone. A total of 476 people died in the 442 fatal crashes.

Youth ages 15 to 19 accounted for 7 percent of all drivers in fatal crashes (3,183 drivers out of 48,613 total). But youth ages 15 to 19 represented 9 percent of distracted drivers involved in fatal accidents (290 drivers out of the 3,183 total).

Drivers in their 20s made up 24 percent of drivers in all fatal crashes (11,428 out of 48,613 total drivers), but were 27 percent of the distracted drivers (891 drivers) and 33 percent of the distracted drivers using cell phones in fatal crashes (151 drivers).

“Reaching out to young drivers can make a difference both now and later,” Legislator Wieder said. “I hope this educational tool will contribute to improving safety on the roads and to saving lives.”

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