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Statewide distracted driving enforcement & education campaign


Fri, Apr 9th 2021 08:55 am

More than 30,000 vehicle and traffic law violation tickets issued during last year's enforcement campaign, including 2,897 tickets for distracted driving

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday announced New York State Police and local law enforcement will participate in the national "U Drive. U Text. U Pay." mobilization to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.

April marks Distracted Driving Awareness Month nationwide. Law enforcement throughout the state will be stepping up patrols during this enforcement initiative, which runs from Thursday, April 8, through Monday, April 12.

"As we saw with the tragic death of Trooper Joe Gallagher, distracted driving can have deadly consequences – and it will not be tolerated in the state of New York," Cuomo said. "New York has proudly led the way in combatting distracted driving by becoming the first state in the nation to prohibit the use of cell phones and have since continued our efforts to ensure the safety of all on the road. Today and always, I urge everyone to do their part to drive responsibly and help save lives."

Gallagher died last month from injuries sustained in 2017 when he was struck by a vehicle. The motorist was distracted by texting on a cellphone.

New York Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner and Governor's Traffic Safety Commission Chair Mark J.F. Schroeder said, "Our hearts go out to the Gallagher family and all those like them who have suffered losses because of distracted driving. As they know all too well, a few moments of inattention can lead to both costly and tragic consequences. The solution to this ongoing problem is simple: Avoid any action that will take your eyes and attention off the road, and you can help keep our roads safe."

New York State Police Acting Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said "One of our top priorities is keeping New York's roadways safe. Distracted drivers are a clear and present danger to all of us. Drivers who use electronic devices behind the wheel not only take their attention from the road, but also put lives at risk. Accidents that result from the use of hand-held devices are completely avoidable and often result in terrible tragedy, like the recent death of Trooper Joe Gallagher of Troop L. Trooper Gallagher was struck by a distracted driver in 2017 while helping a disabled motorist. He passed away on March 26, 2021. Please, put down the electronic devices behind the wheel."

During the October 2020 distracted driving campaign, law enforcement throughout the state issued 30,151 tickets for vehicle and traffic law violations, including 2,897 tickets for distracted driving. Full breakdown here:


Number of Tickets

Distracted Driving


Move Over Law


Other Violations








Grand Total



To help educate motorists about the dangers of distracted driving the GTSC has launched a public service campaign.

Chief of Ilion PD and President of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police Timothy Parisi said, "Our members support and will actively participate in this statewide campaign. All too often we see the negative impacts that distracted driving causes in our communities. Bad decisions can cause tragic consequences! Help us keep our roadways safe, don't drive distracted."

Columbia County Sheriff and President of the New York State Sheriffs' Association David Bartlett said, "Electronic devices can do many amazing things, but they can also distract you while driving. When operating a vehicle put the devices down, limit distractions, and focus on driving. The sheriffs of New York state want you to get to your destination safely, so don't drive distracted."

To help deter motorists from talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device, texting or using an electronic device while driving, the state has set strict penalties. The penalties can range from $50 to $450 in fines, five driver violation points, and suspension or revocation of license.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,142 people were killed in the U.S. in distraction-affected crashes in 2019. To help prevent more tragedies, NHTSA recommends the following for motorists:

√ If you must send or receive a text, pull over to a safe location and park your car first.

√ If you have passengers, appoint a "designated texter" to handle all your texting.

√ If you can't resist the temptation to look at your phone, keep it in the trunk.

Combined with enforcement campaigns, GTSC coordinates various traffic safety activities throughout the year, and supports ongoing initiatives to improve pedestrian, motorcycle and bicycle safety. The GTSC also sponsors critical training for law enforcement, provides resources for teen drivers and their parents, and promotes seatbelt use statewide.

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