A massive statewide crackdown on distracted driving, as part of April's designation as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. From April 10 to April 15, Troopers in marked and unmarked vehicles will aggressively ticket drivers using handheld devices—like smartphones—while behind the wheel.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,154 people were killed and 424,000 were injured nationwide in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2013. Additionally, ten percent of all fatal accidents involved a driver who was identified as distracted at the time of the crash.
NY has some of the most stringent penalties in the nation, and current New York State law includes the following penalties for distracted drivers:
· For a first offense, the minimum fine is $50 and the maximum is $200
· A second offense in 18 months increases the maximum fine to $250
· A third offense in 18 months results in a maximum fine of $450
· Probationary and junior drivers face a 120-day suspension of their license for a first offense, and one year revocation of their permit or license if a second offense is committed within six months.
As part of the campaign to end distracted driving, Operation Hang Up is a special enforcement effort to step up patrols and checkpoints. Troopers will be using both marked State Police vehicles and Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement (unmarked) vehicles as part of the operation in order to identify motorists who are using handheld electronic devices while driving. Unmarked vehicles allow the Trooper to better observe distracted driving violations. These vehicles blend in with every day traffic but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once the emergency lighting is activated.
During the last campaign from November 26, 2014 to November 30, 2014, State Police issued more than 1,000 tickets, including more than 550 tickets for distracted driving. These tickets were a combination of talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device while driving, texting, or using an electronic device while driving.
The campaign is funded by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee. For more information, visit www.safeny.ny.gov. For more information on New York State's cell-phone and texting laws, go to www.dmv.ny.gov/cellphone.htm. For more information on distracted driving, visit www.distraction.gov.