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12 April 2018
State Police announce crackdown on distracted driving
 Major Robert E. Patnaude
 Troop G Commander

April 12, 2018- SP Latham

New York State Police and local law enforcement will participate in a statewide crackdown on distracted driving as part of April’s National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The enforcement effort, called Operation Hang Up, will include increased patrols and checkpoints targeting drivers using electronic devices while behind the wheel. This year’s enforcement detail will run from April 12 through April 16.
Preliminary data indicates a more than 1,100 percent increase in tickets for texting while driving in New York State from 2011 to 2017, including a 20 percent increase from 2016 to 2017.  While hands-free technology in vehicles has resulted in a steady decline in the number of tickets issued for cell phone use, the increased use of smartphones has caused texting tickets to rise every year since 2011.
Troopers will be using both marked State Police vehicles and Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement (CITE) vehicles as part of the operation in order to more easily identify motorists who are using handheld devices while driving. CITE 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.
State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, “Motorists who disregard the law and the dangers of using a smartphone while driving could face stiff penalties. Our Troopers will be highly visible and vigilant in our enforcement efforts, as we seek to eliminate the tragedies caused by distracted driving.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nationwide in 2016, 3,450 people were killed in crashes caused by distracted driving.  In addition, according to a study conducted by the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research, in 2015, 160 persons were killed and more than 33,000 persons were injured in crashes in New York that had “driver inattention/distraction” reported as a contributing factor.  The same report noted that 21 to 22 percent of police-reported fatal and personal injury crashes had “driver inattention/distraction” reported as a contributing factor each year. 
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the creation of Text Stops in September 2013, expanding upon the state’s efforts to reduce distracted driving by highlighting places for motorists to pull off the highway, park and use their mobile devices. Park-and-ride facilities, rest stops, and parking areas along state highways and the New York State Thruway serve a dual function as Texting Zones.
The newest Text Stop, located on the northbound Adirondack Northway (Interstate 87) between Exits 27 and 28 in the town of Schroon, Essex County, opened in October 2017.
The goal of the Operation Hang Up campaign is to enforce the law and raise awareness and deter distracted driving.
During the April 2017 Operation Hang Up campaign, State Police issued more than 16,000 tickets, including 2,116 tickets for distracted driving. The tickets written were a combination of talking on a cell phone without a hands free device, texting, or using an electronic device while driving.
NYS Distracted Driving Tickets Issued:
2017* 104,445 110,591 215,036    
2016 113,370 92,363 205,733    
2015 132,245 84,794 217,039    
2014 165,087 76,208 241,295    
2013 208,508 55,718 264,226    
2012 217,329 30,370 247,699    
2011 248,801 9,043 257,844    
Counts as of 3/27/2018        
*PLEASE NOTE - Counts for 2017 may be incomplete due to lag time associated with processing tickets recorded and delivered to DMV on paper (as opposed to those recorded and transmitted electronically).
Final counts for 2017 will be available in May 2018.
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 month
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.

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