State troopers are stepping up enforcement of cell phone use and texting while driving violations in an attempt to prevent crashes by changing driving behaviors.
During “Operation Hang Up,” April 23-29, troopers will blanket area roads targeting drivers using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving, according to State Police Major Michael A. Kopy.
“Electronic devices have become commonplace in our lives, but they have no place in the hands of a driver,” said Kopy. “I’ve instructed our troopers to take a zero tolerance stance.”
To assist them in more effectively detecting phone users, the State Police have devised a number of enforcement strategies, including use of specially designed vehicles that allow them to patrol inconspicuously in traffic while providing a superior vantage point to observe phone use and texting, Kopy said. Known as CITE — Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement — vehicles, the stealthy patrols bear no police decals, but are unmistakable as police vehicles when the emergency lights are activated.
Kopy said that recent research shows that drivers talking on phones are four times more likely to be involved in a crash, and that the behavior of such drivers is equivalent to the behavior of drunk drivers at the threshold of the legal limit of .08 BAC. Texting increases the risk more than 23 times, he said.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributed more than 3,000 deaths last year to distracted driving, calling it a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways.
“The State Police are making distracted driving enforcement a priority, and we are changing our tactics accordingly to step up enforcement.” said Kopy. “This is serious. Our successes and failures are measured in human lives.”
Under New York Vehicle and Traffic Law, merely viewing a phone or other hand-held electronic device while driving is illegal. Violators may be fined as much as $150, be charged additional mandatory court surcharges, and be assessed three driver violation points.