An insurance company got the go-ahead from New York State to use some new technology to cut down on dangerous texting-while-driving.
Online insurer “E-surance” wants drivers to install a device in cars, coupled with a phone app for teenage drivers. Department of Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky can see these making things cheaper and safer.
"What the combination of the device in the car and the app would do is when in the car's in motion, your teenager wouldn't be able to text or make a phone call. And again the idea is if you install these devices you're going to get a better rate from your insurance company, so cheaper rates for people, and at the same time really increase safety on the road."
Lawsky says his department and Governor Cuomo’s office will encourage other insurers to offer similar devices if they work out. And since the program is voluntary, he doesn’t see anyone’s rights being violated.
"I don’t think it's any privacy or free speech issue. You can still make 911 calls. Everything's a balancing act. You don’t have a right to make the roads unsafe and be killing people, and that’s what we're dealing with. "
Lawsky notes the state has passed laws and increased penalties for distracted driving. He calls it a long-term battle to change people’s behavior since texting has become so popular. Though illegal, it’s also popular on the roads: New York gave out more than 30-thousand tickets in 2012 to texting drivers. Nationwide more than 33-hundred people die a year in accidents involving texting behind the wheel.