Major Carla A. DiRienzo
Troop T Commander
The New York State Police will participate in a national 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 Monday, April 4, through Monday, April 11.
Troopers will be using both marked State Police vehicles and Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement (CITE) vehicles 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 everyday traffic but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once the emergency lighting is activated.
New York State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said, “Distracted Driving continues to be a leading factor in motor vehicle crashes. Yet, the deaths and injuries caused by distracted driving are 100 percent preventable. Drivers must be aware of their surroundings and consciously reduce distractions and behaviors that take their attention from the road. State Police will continue to work toward making New York’s roads safer and we will hold distracted drivers accountable.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,142 people were killed in the United States in distraction-affected crashes in 2020. To help prevent more tragedies, NHTSA recommends the following for motorists:
- If you must send or receive a text, pull over to a safe location and park your car first.
- If you have passengers, appoint a “designated texter” to handle all your texting.
- If you can’t resist the temptation to look at your phone, keep it in the trunk.
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