Governor Signs Legislation Prohibiting Texting While Driving

New Mexico Joins 41 Other States in Fighting Distracted Driving

Albuquerque — Today Governor Susana Martinez signed legislation prohibiting texting while driving in New Mexico. Senate Bill 19 bans texting while operating a motor vehicle, except when summoning medical or other emergency help.

“We know that texting while driving is a lethal distraction,” said Governor Martinez. “There is no text message that is worth a person’s life. Distracted drivers pose a serious danger to fellow motorists on our streets, roads, and highways, especially among our youth. Texting while driving is now the leading cause of death for New Mexico’s teen drivers. Most other states have banned the practice of texting while driving. Today, I am proud to sign legislation to finally make New Mexico one of these states.”

Distracted driving is increasing rapidly not just in New Mexico, but across the United States. For example, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,328 people died in crashes as a result of distracted driving nationally in 2012 alone. NHTSA data also shows that at any moment, as many as 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices such as navigation systems or MP3 players behind the wheel. Additionally, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, drivers who text while driving are 23 times more likely to be involved in some sort of critical safety issue compared to drivers who leave their phones alone.

Senate Bill 19, sponsored by Senator Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) and Representative James Smith (R- Sandia Park), passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate with broad bipartisan support. Although several municipalities had already banned texting while driving, this law bans texting throughout the state. New Mexico is the 42nd state to ban texting behind the wheel.

At today’s event, held at the New Mexico Office of Medical Investigations, the New Mexico Department of Transportation also unveiled the latest in a series of commercials geared towards spreading the word about the dangers of texting while driving, as well as a mobile app, DNTXT. When activated, the app silences incoming text messages, and sends an auto-reply message to the sender notifying that the user is driving and cannot respond.

DNTXT: Deadly Conversation (Director’s Cut – Long Version) from VWK on Vimeo.

 “No parent, spouse, son or daughter should ever have to walk through these doors to identify a loved one because of an accident that is completely preventable,” concluded Governor Martinez.