Tonawanda News — City of Tonawanda police will be cracking down on texting drivers as part of the national “U Drive, U Text, U Pay,” campaign from today through Tuesday.
New York State Police will also be stepping up patrols and checkpoints as part of the statewide Operation Hang Up, their crackdown on distracted driving by drivers using mobile devices.
“The message is clear: Distracted driving is deadly and it will simply not be tolerated on New York roads,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “With stricter laws and crackdowns like this one we are working to make New York a safer state for all our drivers. Vigilance is particularly important as young motorists develop habits that will stay with them throughout their lifetime.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2012, 3,328 people across the country were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver. Another 421,000 people were injured in distracted driver crashes. Additionally, 10 percent of fatal crashes were reported as distraction-affected crashes.
“I urge all New Yorkers to hang up, keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel so that no one has to unnecessarily suffer the pain of losing a loved one at the hands of a text,” Cuomo said.
Current state penalties for distracted driving for a first offense, are a minimum fine is $50 and maximum fine of $150. For a second offense committed within 18 months, the minimum fine is $50 and the maximum fine increases to $200. And for a third or subsequent offense committed within 18 months, the minimum fine is $50 and the maximum fine increases to $400.
Beginning on Nov. 1, 2014 new laws take effect for new or young drivers. A first offense conviction of texting-while-driving will have their license suspended for 120 days. For second offense, drivers will have their license suspended for one year.
Cuomo also directed the state Department of Motor Vehicles to implement tougher penalties for distracted driving for all drivers. The DMV has increased the number of points earned against an individual’s driving record upon conviction for texting-while-driving and cell-phone related infractions from three points to five points.
During the last Operation Hang Up campaign in, 2013, state police issued more than 875 tickets. More than 625 tickets were issued for talking on a cell phone without a hands free device and more than 250 of the tickets were for texting or using an electronic device while driving.