Statewide crackdown on distracted driving

Posted at 6:33 PM, Apr 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-09 18:33:35-04

New York State Police are cracking down on distracted drivers as part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, with "Operation Hang Up".

"We put patrols out there and we do check points to sift out people who are driving distracted," said Trooper James O'Callaghan, with NYS Police.

Trooper O'Callaghan added they'll have marked and unmarked cars on the look out for distracted drivers on the roads, especially now that it's warm outside.

"You get a lot more people on bicycles, running, walking the dog, people walking on the roadways with their families," said O'Callaghan. "You put all of those people, and yourself, and the people in your own vehicle at risk while driving distracted."

22-year-old Zack Ventry admits, at times, he answers his phone behind the wheel.

"Sometimes I get a text message and I don't even realize it, and I pick it up and I'll respond, and realize after how unsafe it is," said Ventry.

It's a habit that's grown on many drivers more recently.

"Now there are even more temptations, like making a Facebook Live video, sending a Snapchat, all the social media use that's on the rise so people are more tempted than ever to reach for their phones behind the wheel," said Elizabeth Carey, Public Affairs Manager for AAA.

According to AAA, it leads to about 16% of all fatal crashes. It adds that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds can be too dangerous.

"Think about how long it takes you to look down and to actually read a text message and you're taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds, you don't know what might happen," said Carey.

"Definitely crazy that two seconds can do that much," said Ventry.

AAA says 19 to 24 year-olds are twice as likely to send a text or e-mail while driving, so it offers this tip to drivers in training:

"Put the phone right in the trunk of the car where you can't get your hands on it, put your backpack or purse back there, that way you're not tempted to reach to reach for that phone," said Carey.