Stories From Main Street: Westchester Town Cracking Down On Distracted Driving

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — One Westchester town is adopting a zero tolerance policy for distracted driving.

New Castle has launched an aggressive local campaign called “Hands Off The Phone And On The Wheel.” Around town, drivers will find banners warning: “Five points on your license” and “Zero tolerance for distracted driving.”

Following the lead of state police on highways, local officers will be cracking down.

“We are going to be using unmarked vehicles, officers observing traffic,” Police Chief Charles Ferry told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams. “We have an SUV, it’s going to put officers above where the drivers for the most part are. They can look down into the vehicle and they’ll be radioing to a marked vehicle so they can pull the violator over.”

In the town of New Castle, this is personal. In 2011, 19-year-old Evan Lieberman of Chappaqua died following a head-on collision. Evan was a passenger, but according to a state DMV judge, the driver was texting.

His father, Ben Lieberman, is now on a crusade in his son’s memory.

“So with legislation, education and enforcement working together, you really have a chance to make a difference and to move the needle into something positive,” he said.

In addition to increased enforcement, Ferry said when there is an accident, the phone will be considered right up there alongside speed, drugs and alcohol.

“We are going to train and increase our investigative capabilities to find out more times when it is texting,” Ferry said.

Town Supervisor Rob Greenstein acknowledges the sound of a text is tempting, but said drivers need to “take the temptation away.”

“I think people really need to keep the phone out of their reach,” he said. “You put the phone in your glove compartment or in the backseat or you deputize your passenger, but you’ve got to take away the temptation.”

“We’re looking locally here in New Castle to really try to make an impact on a local level,” Ferry said. “If it works for us, I’m hoping other communities will say, ‘we should do the same.'”

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