In New York Sate, car crashes involving distracted drivers killed 160 people and injured more than 33,000 in 20015 according to a study from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research that was published a few months ago. The study estimates that around 20 to 22% of the fatal car accidents in New York State are related to distracted driving. The problem is not only in New York but all over The United States. Nationally during the whole year of 2015, 3,477 people died and 391,000 were injured in distracted driving accidents.
April is “Distracted Driving Awareness Month” and during the whole month the National Safety Council (NSC) is campaigning to crack down on this epidemic. The NSC invites organizations and communities to share information about distracted driving. Various material is available to download on their website.
At the beginning of the month the New York State police, ran a statewide crackdown on distracted driving called “Operation Hang Up“. As part of this operation patrols and checkpoints targeting drivers using their cellphones or other electronic equipment were set up all over the State. New York State Police Troopers not only patrolled in their marked State Police vehicles but also in Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement (CITE) vehicles. CITE vehicles have proven to be much more effective to catch drivers using electronic equipment while driving. The vehicles blend in traffic but as soon as the police officer identifies a violator he can turn on his emergency lights to make the distracted driver stop so he can then identify him and ticket him.
Last year during the same type of operation, the New York State Police issued a total of 18,000 tickets including 2,000 for distracted driving. Tickets included drivers talking on their cell phones without a hands free device, people texting or using other electronic equipment such as tablets while driving.
According to recent statistics, since 2000 the number of tickets written for people talking on their cellphones while driving decreased every year while the number of tickets for people texting while driving is continuing to increase every year. How many of you have passed drivers who were texting as they sped along? We assume the answer is many. Drivers must be educated as to the danger of this behavior to both themselves and other people using the roads.