New York cracks down on teen drivers who text

New York has introduced stiff new penalties for teenagers who send text messages while driving, saying the measures are necessary to tackle a "deadly" problem.

Under a law signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, drivers under the age of 18 will have their licenses suspended for a first offense of sending SMS messages while driving.

The 60-day driving suspension will also apply to teenagers caught using mobile phones while behind the wheel.

"Statistic after statistic shows that texting-while-driving is a chronic problem in our society, particularly among teenagers, and it will only get worse if we do not take action to prevent this deadly behavior," Cuomo said in a statement.

A second offense would be punishable by a six-month driving ban under the new law, which also applies to newly licensed drivers. It is legal to drive in New York from the age of 16.

More experienced drivers will be sanctioned by a system of penalty points.

A recent study by the journal Pediatrics found that 45 percent of school-age drivers admitted sometimes sending SMS messages while driving.

In the United States, 69 percent of drivers between the age of 18 and 64 have acknowledged speaking on the telephone while driving, with 31 percent admitting to reading emails or text messages while on the road.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announces a bill with tougher penalties for texting while driving at a press conference on May 31, 2013 in New York City. Under the law signed by Cuomo, drivers under the age of 18 will have their licenses suspended for a first offense of sending SMS messages while driving.

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