New York State Police have been out in force this week, specifically looking for drivers who flaunt the ban on handheld devices, making traffic stops and issuing tickets. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has spoken publicly about his support of the ban and the increased enforcement.
“It is illegal to use a handheld electronic device while you are operating a motor vehicle, period,” Cuomo said at a Manhattan news conference Tuesday. “And we’re going to enforce the laws to change the culture.”
This week is the second campaign against distracted driving in less than six months. The first campaign was conducted over the last Thanksgiving holiday and resulted in 800 tickets being handed out. Both campaigns are funded through a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that was earmarked for anti-distracted driving programs. Cuomo has said publicly that he expects similar campaigns will be conducted in the future, and will continue to be conducted until drivers get the message that distracted driving is against the law, and in some cases, deadly.
The National Transportation Safety Board has reported that distracted driving is responsible for more deadly crashes than drunk driving. last year, according to the NTSB, there were more than 3,000 fatal crashes caused by distracted driving, prompting them to suggest a nation wide ban on distracted driving was needed.
New York state has one of the most strict and comprehensive bans on distracted driving in the nation. Last year Governor Cuomo issued an order making violation of the ban a primary offense, giving police the authority to make traffic stops and issue citations to anyone they see in violation of the ban.