Press Release - 03-28-2024

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
Thursday, March 28, 2024

GOVERNOR’S TRAFFIC SAFETY COMMITTEE ANNOUNCES STATEWIDE DISTRACTED DRIVING ENFORCEMENT AND EDUCATION CAMPAIGN

Statewide Distracted Driving Enforcement Campaign to Run April 1 through April 8

Distracted Driving is Most Common Contributing Factor in Crashes in NYS

More than 70,000 Vehicle and Traffic Law Violation Tickets Issued During Last Year's Enforcement Campaign Including 2,612 for Distracted Driving

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) today announced that state and local law enforcement are participating in a national effort to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. April marks Distracted Driving Awareness Month nationwide. Here in New York, distracted driving is the most common contributing factor in all crashed in New York State. During the campaign, law enforcement across the state will be increasing patrols beginning Monday, April 1 through Monday, April 8, 2024.

“As the first state in the nation to prohibit cell phone use while driving, we know the importance of education and enforcement through this campaign,” New York Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner and GTSC Chair Mark J.F. Schroeder said. “Distracted driving is 100 percent preventable yet it happens every day and contributes to more crashes than anything else on our roadways. Our message is simple—when you’re behind the wheel, your job is to keep your eyes on the road and nothing else.”

To help educate drivers about the dangers of distracted driving, GTSC will be utilizing social media, television, radio and Variable Message Signs on highways. Today, GTSC invited the press to an Emergency Vehicle Operator Course in Rye, Westchester County to see firsthand the dangers of distracted driving.

During this period, New York State Police will be conducting “Operation Hang Up”, a special enforcement effort to step up patrols and checkpoints targeting drivers on electronic devices. 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 everyday traffic but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once the emergency lighting is activated.

New York State Police Acting Superintendent Steven G. James said, “Distracted driving continues to be a significant contributing factor in serious car crashes. We urge all drivers to be aware of their surroundings and consciously reduce distractions and behaviors that take their attention from the road. The New York State Police remains vigilant in our efforts to eliminate the senseless tragedies that are caused by distracted driving.”

To help deter drivers from talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device, texting, or using an electronic device while driving, the state has set strict penalties. The penalties can range from $50 to $450 in fines, five driver violation points, and possible suspension or revocation of license.

During the 2023 campaign, law enforcement throughout the state issued 70,263 tickets for vehicle and traffic law violations, including 2,612 tickets for distracted driving.

Full breakdown here:

 

Violation

Number of Tickets

Distracted Driving

2,612

Impaired Driving

1,249

Move Over Law

335

Seatbelt

2,346

Speeding

12,762

Other Violations

50,959

Grand Total

70,263

 

According to preliminary data from the  University at Albany’s Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR), driver inattention/distraction was a contributing factor in 116 fatal crashes in 2023. To help prevent tragedies, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends the following steps for drivers: 

  • 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.

Craig DuMond, Delaware County Sheriff and President of the NYS Sheriffs’ Association, said, “Electronic devices can be useful and fun, but they can also take your focus off the road while driving.  Distracted driving is a leading cause of crashes but fortunately it can be avoided.  Put the phone down and pay attention to driving.  The Sheriffs of New York State want you to be safe on the road so Deputies will be on the lookout for distracted drivers.”

City of Batavia Police Chief and President of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police Shawn Heubusch said, “One of the goals of law enforcement agencies across New York is to ensure our highways, roads and streets are safe for everyone. You can help us ensure that everyone gets home safely by slowing down, putting down your devices and watching out for others on the roads.”

Combined with enforcement campaigns, GTSC coordinates various traffic safety activities throughout the year, and supports ongoing initiatives to improve pedestrian, motorcycle and bicycle safety. The GTSC also sponsors critical training for law enforcement, provides resources for teen drivers and their parents, and promotes seatbelt use statewide.

For more information about GTSC, visit  trafficsafety.ny.gov, or follow the GTSC conversation on Facebook,  Twitter and Instagram.

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