As part of a statewide crackdown on distracted drivers, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced “Operation Hang Up,” a special enforcement effort to increase patrols and checkpoints targeting motorists using electronic devices.
Although tickets for cell phone use continue to decline, tickets for texting and driving have gone up more than 900 percent in the past five years, according to Cuomo, prompting the creation of Operation Hang Up, which runs through Thursday, April 6 and extends through Monday, April 10,
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,477 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2015, with nearly 400,000 other injuries reported. In New York, 160 people were killed and more than 33,000 were injured in crashes that had “driver inattention or distraction” reported as a contributing factor.
“Distracted driving is dangerous and illegal, and with this crackdown, we are once again sending the message that making calls or texting behind the wheel will not be tolerated in New York,” Cuomo stated. “State police and local law enforcement will be out in force to ensure our roadways are safe, and i urge all drivers to act responsibly and put their devices down to prevent tragedy and heartbreak.”
New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach III said that troopers will be using both marked State Police vehicles and Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement vehicles as part of the operation to more easily identify motorists that are using handheld devices while they are behind the wheel.
"Cell phone use and texting are responsible for a significant proportion of traffic crashes, injuries and deaths. If you're texting, you're not driving,” Beach said. “While the New York State Police enforces New York’s hand held cell phone and electronic device laws at all times, Troopers will crack down on violators during the Operation Hang-Up campaign."
During the Operation Hang Up operation last year, state police reported that they issued more than 18,000 tickets, including more than 2,000 for distracted driving. They issued more than 200,000 tickets for distracted driving in 2016.
"One call or one text can lead to one horrible mistake on the road, which in turn can have lifelong repercussions for motorists, cyclists or pedestrians,” DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner and Acting Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee Terri Egansaid stated.
“Through enforcement and awareness campaigns such as Operation Hang Up, New York continues to make progress in combating distracted driving. Our law enforcement officers are second to none, and I thank them for their continued efforts to enforce New York’s traffic safety laws every day of the year."