This week New York State Police are focusing nearly all their attention one specific driving infraction: distracted driving.

Thus begins ‘Operation Hang Up‘ the first new York State Police focused effort on reducing the number of distracted drivers on state roads and highways. The effort will require stepped up enforcement of existing laws, more patrols on the streets and more attention to exactly what all those drivers they pass are doing.

New York has one of the strictest anti-distracted driving laws in the country. They ban the use of cell phones or devices for texting while driving. Penalties are severe and police are authorized to stop and cite any drivers they see violating the law. There is no wiggle room. If you try to text and drive, or chat on your cell phone while you are driving, and police catch you, you will be cited for distracted driving.

By emphasizing enforcement of distracted driving laws in New York, state police are hoping to raise awareness not only of the existing law, but also of the dangers of distracted driving itself.

According to a recent report by the National Transportation Safety Board, more serious vehicle crashes are caused by distracted driving than those caused by DUI. That’s a first in the history of automobiles, but given the ubiquitous nature of digital devices the trend is only likely to continue if police and law makers don’t step up their vigilance.

For now, police are emphasizing the new laws in New York in every way possible, both to educate drivers and keep the roads safe. In other states where police have focused enforcement on distracted driving a weeks worth of enforcement usually results in hundreds of citations. By this time next we will know for sure what effect the NYSP stepped-up enforcement had, but it seems likely they will at least catch a few distracted drivers.