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

ITHACA, N.Y. – New York State Police and the Ithaca Police Department teamed up this week to crack down on distracted driving and ticketed 27 drivers Tuesday in Ithaca.

Twenty of the 27 tickets were issued for people using an electronic device or texting while driving, police said. New York law prohibits the use of handheld electronics while driving. Talking on a handheld phone, texting, emailing, playing games and so on using a handheld device are all grounds for a distracted driving ticket. Hands-free phones and devices mounted on the dashboard are excluded from the ban.

Distracted drivers stand to pay $50 to $200 for their first offense, with fines increasing for repeat offenses. A second ticket within 18 months raises the maximum fine to $250, and a third to $450. Drivers with a probationary or junior license face harsher penalties, with a 120-day license suspension for a first offense and year-long suspension for a second within six months.

A study conducted by the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research found in 2015, 160 people were killed and 33,000 were injured in New York crashes involving driver inattention or distraction. In total, the study found inattentive or distracted driving contributed to about 21 percent of fatal or injury crashes per year in the state.

Devon Magliozzi

Devon Magliozzi is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at dmagliozzi@ithacavoice.com or 607-391-0328.