In April, a 6 day blitz by State and Local police crack downed on distracted drivers. The Journal News reported on April 10, 2014, increased patrols on highway and streets looking for drivers who are texting or talking on their cell phones. Gov. Cuomo called the enforcement blitz “Operation Hang Up”.
State Troopers increased both marked and unmarked patrol cars and sport utility vehicles that are modified to sit higher so Troopers can see into other cars. New York State has boosted penalties for texting while driving to a maximum fine of $150 and 5 points for the first offence. The fine goes up to $500 for the third offense. Drivers with a learner’s permit or junior license will have their driving privileges suspended for 120 days for the first offense and the second offense carriers a one year ban.
Because of tougher enforcement and stronger laws, texting while driving tickets in New York leaped 82% in 2013 compared to 2012. Outside of New York City, the increase was 89%. In 26 of New York’s Counties, the numbers of texting tickets were more than doubled from one year earlier in Westchester, Rockland, Broome & Dutchess Counties. Police issued 55,000 texting tickets in 2013, up from 30,000 in 2012.
A forum was held by leaders to keep drivers focused. 660,000 drivers on highways nationwide use hand held cell phones at any given moment. Districting driving is defined as an activity that causes drivers to shift their eyes or focus away from the road. An article in The Journal News on May 7, 2014 stated distracted driving contributed to more than 3000 deaths and about 421,000 injuries in 2012.
The forum was held by The Regional Administration for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at Westchester Medical Center on May 6, 2014. The event drew law enforcement officials, transportation leaders and advocate to discuss the growing problem of distracted driving. The forum concluded that Legislature is important and enforcement is important. It’s creating a social unacceptance to distracted driving. Ben Lieberman was at the forum who is an Executive Director of Distracted Operators Risk Casualties. In July, 2011, Liberman’s 19 year old son was a passenger in a friend’s car and was killed in a crash on Route 6 in Orange County, New York. The driver claimed he fell asleep but after being sued, obtained cell phone records and an Administrative Judge ruled the driver violated several traffic law including using a portable electronic device while driving. The driver lost his license for one year and was not criminally charged. Liberman’s group, along with StopDistractions.org and AT&T organized a summit which also featured a driving simulator that challenged drivers to navigate a virtual road while using their cell phones.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, call the law firm of Dominick J. Robustelli & Associates, PLLC at (914) 288-0800.