In an effort to combat deadly distractions caused by texting and driving, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Monday unveiled a plan to create "texting zones" along the Long Island Expressway, New York Thruway and other major state highways.
Two of the 91 designated areas for motorists to stop and use their mobile devices are off the LIE in Huntington Town. The designated areas are at the rest stops on both sides, between exits 51 and 52, in Dix Hills, officials said.
In addition to the zones, the state announced it will install 298 highway signs notifying motorists about safe texting zone locations on those major roads.
"It can wait, text stop 5 miles," reads one of the messages on the blue signs.
In his announcement, Cuomo said state police issued a total of 21,580 tickets for distracted driving in New York between July 4 and Sept. 2 -- up from 5,208 tickets for the same period in 2012. A total of 5,553 of those tickets were for texting while driving, up from 924 tickets issued last year.
"New York State is continuing to use every tool at its disposal to combat texting-while-driving," Cuomo said in a statement. "In addition to tougher penalties, new detection methods for state police and ongoing public outreach efforts, we are now launching special texting zones to allow motorists to pull over and use their phones . . . With this new effort, we are sending a clear message to drivers that there is no excuse to take your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road because your text can wait until the next texting zone."
In July, Cuomo signed a bill into law that increased the penalty for texting and driving to five points on your driver's license -- up from three points, the previous penalty.