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Overcompensating? New York introduces texting zones for drivers

You're travelling through another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination.

That's the signpost up ahead. Your next stop: The texting zone.

With all due respect to Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone never envisioned a future in which drivers had to be told to pull over to the side of the road to use their smartphones.

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In an effort to stop motorists from texting while driving, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced the creation of 91 "texting zones" on his state's highways.

Nearly 300 road signs directing drivers toward the zones are already going up on New York motorways. Some signs include the cautioning phrase "It can wait" and include the number of miles a driver has to travel to reach the next texting location.

"If you wait until you're in a rest area or service area, you literally may be saving someone's life and the life you save may be your own," Cuomo said at a stop located near Albany, N.Y., on Monday.

The texting zones initiative is part of the state's ongoing attempt to crack down on distracted drivers.

This summer past, New York state police handed out more than 21,580 tickets to distracted drivers, compared to 5208 the summer before. Governor Cuomo also signed a law that boosted texting while driving fines to $150 (U.S.), along with five "points" off each offender's driving license.

By Cuomo's estimate, distracted driving is responsible for one out of five accidents in New York state. And very often the people texting while driving (or is that driving while texting?) are under the age of 21.

"It is especially a problem for young drivers," said Cuomo, who has three teen daughters at home. "They are the generation of the cellphone, of the electronic device that they use constantly. I have three young ladies at home and I see it first-hand."

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Meanwhile, a new app is attempting to remedy the texting-while-driving problem without government intervention.

The app is called Lifesaver and it simply prevents the user from texting while the car is in motion.

Parents can install the app on their kids' phones and will receive an alert if it's suddenly turned off while the teen is driving.

As added incentive, teen drivers that comply to the app's rules will earn rewards, like iTunes gift cards.

Currently, the Lifesaver app is only available for Android phones, but a version for iPhones will be coming soon.

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