R.B. police join campaign, up distracted driving enforcement

Driving? Put down that phone
April 11, 2019 at 8:08 a.m.

The Rye Brook Police Department is joining forces across the country to intensify state and local texting and distracted driving law enforcement and to raise awareness about the dangers and legal implications of such violations.

The efforts are part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) annual campaign, “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” In conjunction with April being National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, high-visibility enforcement efforts run from Apr. 11-15.

“People know texting and driving is dangerous and illegal, but they do it anyway, and it puts others at risk,” said Police Chief Gregory Austin. “Beginning Apr. 11, you will see increased law enforcement efforts, as officers will be stopping and ticketing anyone who is caught texting and driving. We are not trying to rack up citations—we are trying to save lives. If you text and drive, you will pay.”

Between 2012-2017, nearly 20,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver, according to NHTSA. This means that nearly one-tenth of all fatal crashes that year were reported as distraction-affected.

NHSTA also states that millennials are the biggest texting-while-driving offenders. They are also known to check social media accounts while at the wheel. In 2017, 8% of people killed in teen driving crashes died when teen drivers were distracted at the time of the crash.

“Every day, we ticket drivers who haven’t gotten the message that using their cell phones while they drive is illegal and puts every other road user at risk,” said Austin. “We all know the dangers associated with distracted driving. Whether it’s eating and drinking behind the wheel, using GPS, talking to other vehicle passengers, or using the cell phone, it’s all dangerous when you’re driving. We are determined to impress upon these drivers: Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.”

Aside from the dangers, violating distracted driving laws can be costly. Such a traffic infraction is punishable by a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $150 upon conviction of first violation.

Austin urges drivers to put their phones away when they’re behind the wheel. If sending a text is urgent, they should pull over. Helpful steps for a phone-free experience include:

*Pulling over the vehicle when needing to send a text.

*Designating a passenger as the “designated texter” and allowing them to access the phone.

*Not engaging in social media while driving.

*Putting the phone out of reach in the trunk, glove box or back seat until driving is finished.


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