Andrew Cuomo Sics State Police On "Distracted Drivers"

Andrew Cuomo: protecting you from yourself since 2011.
Andrew Cuomo: protecting you from yourself since 2011.

Put down the cell phone and get ready for a lullaby -- Governor Andrew Cuomo's nanny-state is targeting "distracted drivers" this week.

The governor's office announced yesterday that New York State Police this week will be conducting "Operation Hang Up" -- a ticketing campaign that will target people using their cell phones or other electronic devices while driving.

"Using a cell phone while driving is illegal and puts other motorists in danger," Cuomo says. "After the huge success of the first Operation Hang Up - when more than 800 distracted drivers were ticketed - this second campaign will enable State Police to step up enforcement measures to send a clear message to drivers: keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. I thank the State Police and local law enforcement officers for their hard work to keep New Yorkers safe."

Cuomo's first "Operation Hang Up" went down during last year's Thanksgiving weekend. As Cuomo mentioned, State Police ticketed more than 800 drivers. "Operation Hang Up" redux starts today and will continue through Sunday.

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The campaign is funded by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and gives State Police the ability to "focus patrol resources on the issue of distracted driving and supplements their conventional traffic safety and enforcement efforts. Similar enhanced enforcement periods will be conducted in the future."

In other words, the federal government is giving New York extra money to pay cops overtime.

The campaign comes about a year after Cuomo signed a law that strengthened enforcement of texting-while-driving violations. The law made using handheld electronic devices a "primary" traffic offense with a penalty of three points on an offender's drivers license. Prior to Cuomo's signing the law, texting-while-driving would only get you two points.

The governor's office cites "recent research" that shows driving while using a cell phone is as dangerous as driving drunk, claiming drivers using cell phones are four times more likely to get into a wreck than drivers who aren't preoccupied with a phone call.

Regardless of whether talking on a cell phone while driving is actually as dangerous as driving drunk, the fact remains: Cuomo's goon squad is out in full force looking for "distracted" drivers, so put down the cell phone while you're driving (until Sunday, at least).

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