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Fight To End Texting While Driving Gains Steam In Westchester

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced texting zones at I-684 and I-87 in Westchester in an effort to curb texting while driving.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced texting zones at I-684 and I-87 in Westchester in an effort to curb texting while driving. Photo Credit: File Photo
Jacy Good is the founder of Hang Up and Drive. Good's parents were killed and Good was severely injured in an accident caused by distracted driving.
Jacy Good is the founder of Hang Up and Drive. Good's parents were killed and Good was severely injured in an accident caused by distracted driving. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jacy Good

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Imagine driving a car and closing your eyes for five seconds.

According to Jacy Good and Steve Johnson, who run White Plains-based Hang Up and Drive , that is the equivalent of sending a text message while driving.

Good started Hang Up and Drive after her parents were killed in a car accident caused by a man talking on his phone. Good survived, though she suffered a traumatic brain injury and is unable to use her left arm or lower leg and has minor lingering cognitive issues.

"When you're texting or talking on the phone, you're not really paying attention to the road," Good said. "Just talking on your phone causes six times as many accidents."

Good said she wanted to use her story to prevent what happened to her and her parents to happening to someone else.

"People have to make up their mind that they are only going to focus on driving when they drive," Good said.

Schools throughout Westchester have also focused on warning teens against texting while driving. Pleasantville High School, for instance,l has a Drive Smart program.

Good delivers presentations at schools, recently speaking at Ossining High School to tell her story.

"Kids are really starting to get it," Good said. "The problem isn't solved, but high schoolers can and will do something about it. My story is so awful, my life was destroyed. It really has an impact on the audience."

Last September, the state announced special texting zones were being installed at I-684 in Bedford and I-87 in Ardsley to reduce texting while driving.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a 35-percent increase in tickets issued this summer compared to the summer 2012 for distracted driving, a result of extensive enforcement crackdown by state police.

According to the governor's office, state police issued 21,580 tickets over the summer, compared to last summer's total of 5,208 tickets.

Westchester County passed a law banning texting while driving five years ago. Legislator Peter Harckham, who supported the law, said texting while driving has the same accident rate as a DWI.

"It's an incredibly dangerous thing to do," Harckham said. "It's dangerous to the driver, it's dangerous to pedestrians and it's dangerous to others on the road."

Good's goal is to remind people that a text message or phone call can wait.

"No message is more important than your life or someone else's life," Good said.