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State Police Using Unmarked Cars As They Target Drivers Using Cell Phones

"Operation Hang Up" looks to reduce accidents related to cell phone use, texting.

State troopers are stepping up enforcement of cell phone use and texting while driving violations in an attempt to prevent crashes by changing driving behaviors.   

During “Operation Hang Up,” April 23-29, troopers will blanket area roads targeting drivers using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving, according to State Police Major Michael A. Kopy.

“Electronic devices have become commonplace in our lives, but they have no place in the hands of a driver,” said Kopy.  “I’ve instructed our troopers to take a zero tolerance stance.”

To assist them in more effectively detecting phone users, the State Police have devised a number of enforcement strategies, including use of specially designed  vehicles that allow them to patrol inconspicuously in traffic while providing a superior vantage point to observe phone use and texting, Kopy said. Known as CITE — Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement — vehicles, the stealthy patrols bear no police decals, but are unmistakable as police vehicles when the emergency lights are activated.

Kopy said that recent research shows that drivers talking on phones are four times more likely to be involved in a crash, and that the behavior of such drivers is equivalent to the behavior of drunk drivers at the threshold of the legal limit of .08 BAC. Texting increases the risk more than 23 times, he said. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributed more than 3,000 deaths last year to distracted driving, calling it a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways.

“The State Police are making distracted driving enforcement a priority, and we are changing our tactics accordingly to step up enforcement.” said Kopy.   “This is serious.  Our successes and failures are measured in human lives.”

Under New York Vehicle and Traffic Law, merely viewing a phone or other hand-held electronic device while driving is illegal. Violators may be fined as much as $150, be charged additional mandatory court surcharges, and be assessed three driver violation points.

VinnyfromCongers April 14, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Gov. Pataki forbid the use of unmarked cars for traffic enforcement by the state police. Was that policy modified? If so, i think it's about time. Everyone on the PIP and the thruway know there hasn't been an unmarked car for over 10 years. Speeding, tailgating and unsafe lane changes are running rampant because there was no way to get caught. Hopefully, the new state police superintendent who lives in West Nyack noticed and is doing something about it.
Donna Dixon April 14, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Wow, thanks 2 S. Diamond, Eight4Five, and Vinny from Congers. I believe they have the practical solutions. The politicians need to get this issue on their radar. Columns like this as well as media attention will help turn this situation around. Have a nice weekend
S.Diamond June 27, 2012 at 02:15 AM
Too much scheming and wheelin and dealin of millions to worry about multiple high level fines for cells and texting while driving. Unfortunately, they don't get it until it hits home - which I do not wish on anybody.
Donna Dixon June 27, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Yes, you are correct about other things being a priority for politicians. If the issue of cell phones would for some reason become an election issue which could help them get elected or enough of their constituency complained, then the politicians would be forced to act. That is the way it works. Today is a primary day in some areas and the low turnout bespeaks the discontent of most voters. Many people are disgusted with NY politics and they have stopped working the democratic process. They feel nothing will change.
Donna Dixon June 27, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Oops, I am tired today, I didn't mean today is a primary day. I mean that we just had a primary and there was a low turnout. (Correction)

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