By, Heather Warner
There’s a new tool in New York to track down texting drivers. The state has given troopers 32 tall, unmarked SUVs to better peer down at drivers’ hands. The vehicles are called CITE vehicles, which stand for Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement.
The effort is part of one of the nation’s most aggressive campaigns against texting while driving. Along with the new fleet of vehicles comes steeper penalties and dozens of highway “Texting Zones” where drivers can pull over to use their devices.
New York is among 41 states that ban texting while driving. Additionally, it’s one of 12 states where it is against the law to use hand-held devices to talk or text. Drivers caught violating the law face five points on their driving record (up from 3,) and fines of up to 200 bucks.
Along with the tougher penalties comes tougher enforcement. In a two-month crackdown this past summer, troopers handed out 5,533 tickets for texting while driving, compared to just 924 in the same period last year.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there could be 660,000 drivers in the U.S. at any given moment who are texting, using cellphones, or other electronic devices while behind the wheel. The administration says last year alone, more than 3,300 people were killed and 421,000 others were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers.