Cell phone use while driving is a proven danger. A quick glance at a text has been the cause of car accidents and even deaths. You may have checked a text while driving with no such consequence, but you are putting yourself at risk and, at the least, could be ticketed $150 for merely looking at your phone while driving.
In an attempt to prevent crashes by changing driving behavior, New York State troopers have announced “Operation Hang Up.” During Operation Hang Up, from April 23-29, troopers will blanket area roads targeting drivers using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. They will use inconspicuous police vehicles to observe other drivers during this enforcement.
“Electronic devices have become commonplace in our lives, but they have no place in the hands of a driver,” said Major Michael Kopy, NYSP Commander for Troop K. “I’ve instructed our troopers to take a zero tolerance stance.”
One of a number of enforcement strategies to be used in this Operation, will be the use of the specially designed enforcement vehicles that will allow them to patrol inconspicuously in traffic while providing a superior vantage point to observe phone use and texting. Known as CITE (Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement ) vehicles, the new stealth patrols bear no police decals, but are unmistakable as police vehicles when the emergency lights are activated.
Recent research has indicated 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. 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 Major 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.