Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the New York State Police issued 3,172 tickets for texting-while-driving violations during the second Operation Hang Up campaign held from April 23 to April 29, 2012.
"The fact that State Police issued more than three thousand distracted driving tickets in seven days is a wake-up call for all of us: motorists must change their behaviors and stop putting themselves and others at risk," Governor Cuomo said. "Operation Hang Up has been a successful initiative to protect New Yorkers and keep our roads safe, and I thank the State Police and local law enforcement agencies for their hard work to fight against distracted driving."
The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee funds Operation Hang Up campaigns through a Distracted Driving Enforcement Grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The grant enables the State Police to focus patrol resources on the issue of distracted driving and supplements their conventional traffic safety and enforcement efforts. Similar enhanced enforcement periods will be conducted in the future. The first Operation Hang Up enhanced enforcement campaign took place over last year's Thanksgiving Holiday, during which the New York State Police ticketed more than 800 drivers.
Governor Cuomo signed a new law to strengthen enforcement of texting-while-driving violations in July 2011. The law makes using a handheld electronic device for activities such as texting while driving a primary traffic offense, giving law enforcement the power to stop motorists solely for engaging in this activity. Additionally, the penalty for using a handheld device while driving has been increased from two to three points.
Recent research has shown that drivers talking on phones are four times more likely to be involved in a crash. The behavior of such drivers can be equivalent to the behavior of drunk drivers at the threshold of the legal limit of .08 BAC. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributed more than 3,000 deaths last year to distracted driving, calling it a dangerous epidemic on Americas roadways.
Superintendent of the New York State Police Joseph A. D'Amico said, "Operation Hang Up sends a clear message to drivers that distracted driving will not be tolerated in New York State. Motorists who disregard the law and continue to use a cell phone or electronic device while driving should know that our agency will remain diligent in our enforcement efforts to reduce the dangers caused by distractive driving." Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner and Chair of the Governors Traffic Safety Committee Barbara J. Fiala said, "Distracted driving poses a great danger, and by implementing Operation Hang Up and new texting-while-driving laws, New York State is leading the way in protecting the public from this serious hazard. I commend Governor Cuomo for his leadership and commitment to fighting distracted driving."
Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas J. Madison said, "Using electronic devices while driving is an unsafe distraction and poses a very tangible safety risk. During the Operation Hang Up week, State Police were successful at stopping more than 3,000 incidences of distracted driving, demonstrating the need for drivers to get the message to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road."
The total number of tickets issued during the second Operation Hang Up campaign is listed below. Statistics only include tickets issued by State Police, and do not count those issued by local law enforcement officers: