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State Police Crack Down on Phone Use While Driving

“Operation Hang Up” will be stealth and look for people texting, talking or even just looking at their phone while behind the wheel.

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.

RobF April 16, 2012 at 03:43 PM
I agree with CM. I have seen numerous police officers talking on the phone while driving down local roads. Why are they excluded?
Nygee914 April 16, 2012 at 04:36 PM
It was passed into law recently (over the lastto 2 years atminimum )that they are exempt from that law. It might have been part of the "move over" or the texting law as of recent. Bottom line is any day of the week the city of white plains could allocate additional resources to specifically stand on a street corner writing tickets and providing safety to the citizen. Instead the city of Wp in its infinite wisdom chooses to write parking tickets and set up registration and inspection details. Wondering when they are every going to get their priorities right and understand that our safety comes before revenue.
Walden Macnair April 16, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Nygee is right. Police Officers, Peace Officers, Firefighters, or the operator of an emergency vehicle are all exempt under the Vehicle and Traffic Law. That having been said, even if they weren't it doesn't defend you from doing it, In anycase it's just plain dangerous and yes I think it's dangerous for them too but the law is the law. I for one, welcome the enforcement of this law - Using cellphones and texting is way out of control. I actually saw someone on a motorcycle texting with his left hand while driving. Let's face it few of us are so important that answering the phone can't wait until we stop our vehicles.
Heather Flournoy April 16, 2012 at 06:30 PM
My daughter had a good point that made me stop texting while driving (which I admit I did fall into at one point). She told me that I made her feel like her life wasn't as important as checking my blackberry. Made me think. She also had a great idea: what if she took photos (as a passenger) of people we were passing who were texting while driving and posting them on the Patch? Would police respond? Would she get in trouble? I suppose she would, but I bet the issue would be resolved a lot sooner!
Jefftien Won April 17, 2012 at 10:31 AM
National Distracted Driving Concert & PPV featuring Flo rida, Kelly Rowland, Onerepublic, Justin Bieber Florida Atlantic University April 28 2012. http://rock2livefest.com/Default.aspx#

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