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Sunday, April 10, 2016

ALBANY -- Efforts by state and local law enforcement have resulted in an 840 percent increase in tickets for texting while driving in New York State since 2011. While the number of cell phone tickets have decreased each year since 2011, texting tickets issued during the same period have increased substantially with the proliferation of smartphones.

The announcement was made in conjunction with Distracted Driving Awareness Month and Operation Hang Up, a high-visibility distracted driving crackdown coordinated by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and carried out by the New York State Police and local law enforcement, which began Friday and runs through Wednesday.

“There is zero tolerance for distracted driving and State Police will be out in force to crack down on this dangerous behavior,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said. “By keeping your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, we can help prevent needless tragedies and make this a safer New York.”

Preliminary numbers for 2015 already show that the number of tickets issued by State Police and local law enforcement for texting are up over 2014, and have dramatically increased each year since 2011.

In 2014, more than 48,000 police-reported crashes statewide listed “driver inattention/distraction” as a contributing factor. While drivers can be distracted by many factors, text messaging is one of the most alarming distractions because it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver. According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), looking away for two or more seconds will double the risk of a crash or near crash. However, five seconds is the average amount of time a driver’s eyes are off the road while texting; when traveling at 55 miles per hour, that is enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.

Funding to police agencies for Operation Hang Up and other special initiatives is provided by GTSC, which provides grants to the New York State Police and local police agencies to combat distracted and impaired driving, speeding and other targeted enforcement activities.

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