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Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice Announces Plan To Combat Texting While Driving

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice on Monday announced a five-point plan to help combat texting while driving.

Rice's proposal aims to arm courts with new powers and push both auto insurance and smartphone providers to make sure their customers aren't texting when behind the wheel, 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck reported.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, distracted drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than a nondistracted driver.

Nassau County DA Announces New Plan To Combat Texting While Driving

Rice, who is a candidate for Congress, called texting while driving an epidemic and said something must be done to prevent distracted-driving tragedies.

"No information is so important that it's worth your life," she said.

Rice's plan calls for cellphone makers to implement technology currently used in third-party apps that blocks the ability to text while driving, and offers insurance discounts to those who use phones or apps with the technology, WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reported.

Nassau County DA To Announce New Plan To Combat Texting While Driving

The DA is also recommending that courts require the use of the technology when sentencing offenders.

In addition, Rice wants police to more strictly enforce texting-while-driving laws, even when it's a secondary offense related to higher-level criminal charges. She also is launching a public awareness campaign, creating a website that will aggregate information about technology and education designed to combat distracted driving.

The DA said she believes her plan will make a difference.

"Because people are not going to take the chance," she said. "They're not going to want the five points on their license. Insurance rates are already sky-high. They're not going to want that to go through the roof."

Some motorists on Monday morning admitted they sometimes text while driving.

"I have, and I do occasionally," one woman said. "It's not a good thing."

"Probably one word I would text, but not sit there constantly," another man said. "I've seen people actually just looking at the phone and not looking where they are going. It's crazy."

Last year, New York state increased penalties for teens caught texting while driving.

Those caught texting or using a hand-held cellphone on the road could face a 60-day suspension for a first offense. A second offense within six months would revoke a probationary license for six months and a junior license for 60 days.

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