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Texting While Driving Tickets Spike

This November, New York officials proved just how serious they are about making sure drivers do not text while on the roads by handing out over 800 tickets for texting while driving during the five-day Thanksgiving holiday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provided a "Distracted Driving Enforcement Grant" to the state, which funded "Operation Hang-Up." The New York State Police were able to then focus their patrol officers on stopping and ticketing drivers who were texting, while supplementing the state's regular traffic enforcement. The state plans to enhance "enforcement periods" in the future as well.

According to the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, the purpose of Operation Hang-Up is to send a message to drivers that texting on the roads, and consequently putting other drivers at risk by engaging in the distraction, will not be tolerated in New York, and the state will continue to enforce the law to make its roads and highways safer.

In July, New York passed the law forbidding texting while driving, making it a primary offense. This means law enforcement officers can stop a driver for texting even if the driver is not committing any other traffic offense. The law was designed to strengthen the enforcement of texting while driving, as previously drivers could not be stopped for texting unless they were observed by law enforcement committing a primary traffic violation or breaking another law.

The enforcement aspect of the new law appears to be achieving its goal. From January to June, before the new law was passed, just over 400 tickets were given out each month for texting-while-driving violations. Since the law passed in July, making texting a primary offense, that number has more than doubled to at least 1,000 tickets per month.

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