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Crackdown On Distracted Driving Begins Around New York State

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that state and local police have stepped up patrols statewide to crack down on mobile phone use while driving.

"Operation Hang Up" will be in effect from Thursday up through Tuesday of next week. It combines anti-texting and cellphone law enforcement with advertisements to let people know about the push and convince them to obey the law.

"The message is clear -- distracted driving is deadly and it will simply not be tolerated on New York roads," Cuomo said in a news release. "With stricter laws and crack downs like this one we are working to make New York a safer state for all our drivers. Vigilance is particularly important as young motorists develop habits that will stay with them throughout their lifetime. I urge all New Yorkers to hang up, keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel so that no one has to unnecessarily suffer the pain of losing a loved one at the hands of a text."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in 2012, 3,328 people nationwide were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, and 421,000 were injured. A total of 10 percent of fatal crashes were reported as distraction-affected, the state said.

Under current state law, the first distracted driving offense will result in a minimum fine of $50 and a maximum fine of $150. The second offense within 18 months has a maximum fine of $200, and the third and beyond have a maximum fine of $400.

Young and new drivers convicted of texting while driving will have their license suspended for 120 days for the first offense, and a whole year for the second offense.

During the last "Operation Hang Up" from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1 of last year, state police issued more than 875 tickets.

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