The program, from insurer Esurance, allows policyholders to install a device free of charge in their cars to help prevent teens from texting and calling while driving.
The initiative, which was reviewed and approved by the Department of Financial Services, lets parents choose to create customized “block lists” that can stop specific cell phone activities when the car is in motion.“It’s encouraging to see programs that give parents new tools to help stop their sons and daughters from texting while driving,” said Governor Cuomo. “A combination of inattention and inexperience has far too often produced tragic results for teenage drivers. That’s why my Administration will continue to do everything it can to discourage distracted driving and help parents better protect their children on the highways.”
Benjamin M. Lawsky, superintendent of financial services, said, “I applaud Esurance for using innovative technology to discourage texting while driving, which could help prevent accidents and save lives. That’s a step toward keeping not only teen drivers, but everyone else, safer on the roads. We encourage other insurers to consider using this type of technology – known as ‘telematics’ – to help reduce distracted driving and hold down premiums over the long term.”
Under Esurance’s new voluntary program, policyholders may install an in-car device into their teen’s car that, in conjunction with an Esurance app installed on their teen driver’s phone, can limit the use of text, email, application usage and phone calls while driving (with the exception of 911). The device can also monitor driving behavior, including speeding, hard braking, fast acceleration, and other activities. Parents can log onto an Esurance Web portal to customize the device and review their teens’ driving habits.
“We are pleased that Governor Cuomo, Superintendent Lawsky, and the state of New York have approved our teen driver safety program,” said Esurance president and CEO Gary Tolman. “Esurance DriveSafe can empower parents with smart, innovative technology to help their teens become safer, more responsible drivers.”
Governor Cuomo has taken a number of steps to enhance the safety of New York roads and discourage texting while driving. He has:
Directed the DMV to increase the number of points earned against a person’s driving record for convictions for cell-phone related infractions.
Signed a law that raises the penalties for young and new drivers caught texting-while-driving to the same severity as the penalties for speeding and reckless driving.
Designated 91 “Texting Zones” on the New York State Thruway and state highways to give drivers a pull-off area to park and use their phones.
The Governor has also worked to increase awareness among drivers about the dangers of texting while driving. Statistics show that texting and using a cellphone while driving is a growing trend, whereas alcohol-related driving has declined.
From 2005 to 2011, there has been an approximately 143% increase in cell phone-related crashes in New York state. In that same time period, there has been an approximately 18% decrease in alcohol-related crashes in New York state.
In 2011, there were 25,165 fatal and personal injury crashes involving distracted driving in New York, compared to 4,628 caused by alcohol-related driving.
In New York state, the number of tickets issued for texting-while-driving (30,166) approached the number of DWI/DWAI arrests (43,954) in 2012. In fact, between 2011 and 2012, there was a 234% increase in the number of tickets issued for texting while driving. In the same time period, there was a 4% decrease in the number of DWI/DWAI arrests.