Andrew Cuomo's Cell Phone Patrol Goes Gangbusters On "Distracted Drivers"
It's been just over 12 hours since Governor Andrew Cuomo -- who's always driven around by state troopers -- directed New York State Police to start targeting "distracted drivers" as part of "Operation Hangup," and according to the gov's office, the cell-phone patrol already has nabbed more than 150 motorists.
One of Cuomo's phone bullies in the Kingston area, his office claims, wrote eight tickets in less than an hour.
Cuomo's first cell-phone patrol went on during last year's Thanksgiving weekend, during which state police ticketed more than 800 drivers. "Operation Hang Up" redux started yesterday and will continue through Sunday.
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 -- as we mentioned yesterday -- 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.
Last year, there were 65,081 tickets issued in New York for "using a handheld device while driving," about 25,000 of which were in Manhattan and Brooklyn alone.
"Operation Hang Up is designed to send a strong message to motorists across New York State that driving and using a hand-held device simply do not mix," Cuomo says in a statement.
Cuomo, of course, doesn't have to worry about getting nabbed for chatting on his cell phone while driving -- as we mentioned, he gets driven around by state troopers.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.