Sept. 26, 2013— -- After setting up specialized SUVs to catch texting drivers in the act, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a way to help those drivers deal with texts.
Cuomo announced Monday that the state would designate certain areas along New York highways as texting zones. In addition, the state will provide signs advertising the texting zones to drivers.
"New York State is continuing to use every tool at its disposal to combat texting-while-driving," Cuomo said during Monday's news conference. "We are now launching special texting zones to allow motorists to pull over and use their phones."
The texting zones are actually a collection of the state's Park and Ride facilities and other rest stops. Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor, said that it's possible that New York State may add more locations later, but the governor is focused on the present. "This project was about taking advantage of what we've got," he told ABC News.
Starting this summer, New York State police started taking a more proactive, if punitive, approach to combat texting on the road. From July 4 to Sept. 2, police found more than 5,553 drivers texting while driving. In comparison, only 924 drivers were found texting while driving in 2012.
Though the police department hasn't published the exact breakdown of the numbers, Azzopardi said that it's not just teenagers that are guilty of texting-while-driving. "It's widespread with people who are most familiar with the Internet on cell phones," he said. Azzopardi added that when the governor went out with News 12 to catch texters, the people he caught were all adults.
Cuomo, a father of teenage daughters, said that text messages aren't something that require immediate attention. "It can wait," he said. "There is no excuse to take your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road."