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Memorial Day Weekend Police Crackdown On Distracted Driving, DWI Starts

New York State Police
New York State Police Photo Credit: File photo

While many will be celebrating an extended Memorial Day Weekend holiday, members of state and local police will be out in force in an effort to curtail impaired and distracted riving.

As part of the statewide STOP-DWI enforcement effort, police will be increasing patrols beginning on Friday, May 25, extending through Monday, May 28, citing Memorial Day as one of the busiest travel holidays of the year.

Police said that drivers can expect to see sobriety checkpoints and increased patrols by State Police and local law enforcement agencies during this holiday weekend. Troopers will be using both marked State Police vehicles and Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement (CITE) vehicles as part of the crackdown “in order to more easily identify motorists who are violating the law.”

“CITE vehicles allow the Trooper to better observe driving violations.  These vehicles blend in with everyday traffic but are unmistakable as emergency vehicles once the emergency lighting is activated.”

According to the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, drunk driving killed 272 people and impaired driving injured more than 5,000 others in New York State during 2016. Another 241 people were killed in drug-related crashes.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that, distracted driving has reached the top of the list of growing dangers on local roadways, surpassing aggressive or impaired drivers in a recently released report.

The study states that 88 percent of drivers contend that distracted driving is on the rise, a 30 percent increase in just five years.

In the study, 49 percent of those surveyed reported that they’ve talked on cellphones while driving, and 35 percent admitted that they’ve sent a text or email, “even though most believe it’s wrong to do while driving.” The survey also found that “nine out of 10 drivers nationwide reflect a ‘do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do’ attitude” in regards to cellphone use while driving.

It is estimated that nearly 700,000 people use a cellphone while driving in America each day. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, a crash is four times as likely if a driver is distracted, whether it’s on a hands-free device or not.

According to police officials, the latest “statistics show motor vehicle fatalities are up 6 percent from 2015. More than 40,000 people were killed on our nation's roadways last year, and distracted driving is a major contributor.” One in every four accidents in the nation are caused by texting and driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“Nobody likes getting a ticket, but the safety of our residents, pedestrians, and other drivers is top priority. Cell phones and other electronic devices contribute to driver distraction and inattention,” Yonkers police officials stated. “Pay attention to the road and other drivers, not your phone. That text message is not more important than your life or anyone else's, it can wait.”

To keep motorists safe, AAA released a handful of tips to help avoid distracted driving:

  • Put aside electronic distractions and refrain from using text messaging, email, video games or internet functions, including those built into the vehicle, while driving;
  • Pre-program your GPS; adjust seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before driving;
  • Properly secure children and pets; and store loose possessions and other items that could roll around in the car.

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