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State budget calls for distracted driving penalties to go up

The New York state budget calls for distracted drivers to pay a higher price for texting while driving or talking on the phone without a hands-free set.

The fine for talking on a cell phone while driving will increase from $100 to $150. Texting while driving will carry the same penalty. Repeat violators will pay $200 for the second offense within an 18-month period. And three or more infractions would result in a maximum $400 fee within 18 months.

Steve Pacer, of AAA Western and Central New York, says it is estimated at least 5,000 people die each year nationally due to distracting driving. He says he hopes the prospect of a $400 fine will make people think twice about using the phone while behind the wheel of a car.

"One small mistake, one look-down to send a text message, could end a life. And I think that this law, will hopefully let that train of thought sink in a little bit, too, for everyone -- not just teenagers," said Pacer.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, teenagers are the worst offenders of texting while driving.