New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the fact that so many tickets were handed out during the well publicized effort to control distracted driving was proof that some drivers simply weren’t getting the message. It also makes it all that much more likely future “Operation Hang Up” events will happen.
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. The first Operation Hang Up enhanced enforcement campaign took place over last year’s Thanksgiving Holiday, during which the New York State Police ticketed more than 800 drivers.
New York seems to be on the right track when it comes to cracking down on distracted drivers. Increased enforcement has produced tremendous results which is a tell-tale sign that lots of people are violating the law, even in the face of what has been a very public effort to combat them and get them to put the devices down.
Last year there were nearly one million crashes caused by distracted driving. About a third of those crashes resulted in a fatality, making distracted driving the leading cause of traffic fatalities, outpacing even fatalities caused by driving under the influence.
Cuomo has made it clear he has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to distracted driving within his state and he expects local and state police to follow his lead. What is unclear is how well, or how quickly, New York drivers will get the message, out down their handheld devices and learn to drive without distractions.