Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the New York State Police will conduct a second Operation Hang Up enhanced enforcement campaign to target motorists that use their cell phone and other electronic devices while driving.
The first Operation Hang Up campaign took place over last year's Thanksgiving Holiday, during which State Police ticketed more than 800 drivers. The second enhanced enforcement campaign will begin Monday, April 23, 2012 and continue through Sunday, April 29, 2012.
"Using a cell phone while driving is illegal and puts other motorists in danger," Governor Cuomo said. "After the huge success of the first Operation Hang Up -- when more than 800 distracted drivers were ticketed -- this second campaign will enable State Police to step up enforcement measures to send a clear message to drivers: keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. I thank the State Police and local law enforcement officers for their hard work to keep New Yorkers safe."
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.
Superintendent of the New York State Police Joseph A. D'Amico said, "If you use a hand-held cell phone or are texting while driving, you should expect to receive a ticket from a New York State Trooper. Electronic devices have become commonplace in our lives, but they have no place in the hands of a driver. Operation Hang Up is a focused enforcement effort that will reinforce to the motoring public that these violations are taken seriously and will not be permitted."
Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner and Chair of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee Barbara J. Fiala said, "Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State has been in the forefront of combating distracted driving. With new texting laws in effect, and increased enforcement efforts like this one, we are taking additional positive actions that will help educate the public and change extremely dangerous distracted driving behaviors."
Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas J. Madison said, "Over the seven-day period, the State Police will step up enforcement measures making sure drivers keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. The Thruway Authority will continue to reinforce the fact that hand-held cell phone use is a dangerous distraction and a real safety risk on the road."
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 America's roadways.