NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Nassau County Police Officer Tom Greer can guess what drivers will say when he pulls them over for talking on their phones while behind the wheel.
“‘I’m getting a call from the school. I’m getting a call from my doctor,'” the 29-year police veteran said.
So even he was a bit surprised when the lights went on, the blue Hyundai Santa Fe pulled to the side of the Long Island Expressway, and Salvatore Sapia, of Levittown, just shrugged it off.
“Guy with a wrong phone number,” the motorist said. ” … It cost me a bundle.”
With police departments across the Tri-State Area cracking down on distracted driving, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman recently joined Greer for a ride-along on the LIE.
There are some signs the message is finally getting through.
While texting tickets are on a record pace, tickets for talking on a phone are actually down 18 percent from last year.
Still, about 125,000 people were issued distracted-driving tickets in New York in the first half of 2014.
“I don’t think anything is that important that you couldn’t pull to the right side of the road,” Greer said.
No one Greer stopped for talking on their phones put up a fight.
“I know I did the wrong thing,” one woman said.
“Picked up the phone to say ‘I can’t talk to you,’ and then I saw you in my rearview mirror,” said Laurie, whose son was calling from Spain.
Texters, however, proved tougher to nail down.
Kenneth Johnson, who was driving his company’s white pickup truck, got away with a warning.
“He saw something in my hand, I guess, and he assumed it was a phone,” Johnson said.
“There could be a discrepancy whether I saw one phone or the other,” Greer conceded. “It affects his license. He’s trying to make a living.”
Even the slightest distraction can prove to be dangerous. A car can travel 75 to 80 feet in a second, Greer said.
“I don’t like to see people bleeding and in pain, and through the stupidity of others and the carelessness and selfishness of others,” Greer said.
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