Featured image: "Texting While Driving" by Intel Free Press is licensed under CC BY 2.0

ITHACA, N.Y. — During an eight-day push to crack down on distracted driving, the Ithaca Police Department issued 108 tickets throughout the city. Before the push, the department issued an average of 17 distracted driving tickets per month this year.

“There is no doubt in my mind that this strong enforcement aspect, coupled with the ongoing Distracted Driving Diversion Class, clearly demonstrates our commitment to not only enforcing the law but to educate the driving public of the dangers associated with these violations in an effort to change the dangerous behavior,” IPD Sergeant Barry Banfield said in a news release.

In 2015, 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If a person takes their eyes off the road for five seconds to send a text while traveling about 55 miles per hour they will travel about the length of a football field, essentially with “eyes closed,” the NHTSA says.

During the push from Sept. 10 – 18, IPD issued 56 tickets for manipulating an electronic device while driving and 52 for driving while talking on a cell phone. On Sept. 14, 58 of those tickets were issued in a single day.

The extra police detail is the latest push by the District Attorney’s Office and IPD to take a harder stance on distracted driving.

At the end of August, officials announced that a newly formed Distracted Driving Diversion Class would offer first-time violators the chance to attend a presentation by IPD about the dangers of distracted driving. Those who complete the course will avoid the five-point DMV penalty.

Related — Ithaca police and DA’s office take ‘hard stance’ on distracted driving; course offered for new offenders

“Overall I would categorize the week-long effort as extremely successful, and I hope to be able to organize more details in the future and will continue the efforts with the funds granted by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee,” Sergeant Banfield said in a news release. “I hope to use our results as a strong focus in obtaining additional funding next year to battle what clearly is an epidemic in our city.”

Featured image: “Texting While Driving” by Intel Free Press is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.