NASSAU COUNTY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There are calls on Long Island to put an end to dangerous distracted driving as some are calling for police to do more.
CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan found several distracted drivers in Nassau County along Old Country Road – from people putting on makeup, to drivers reading, and others texting and even Skyping and Face Timing behind the wheel.
“Texting and driving – that is a big thing people are getting in accidents all the time,” said Long Beach driver Justin Pietzak.
“Distracted driving, of course. Not paying attention. Can easily hit someone,” said Franklin Square driver Anna Smith.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports distracted driving is an epidemic and getting worse.
AAA is wondering why Nassau County Police issue so few distracted driving tickets.
Last year, such violations amounted to a paltry eight per day, while neighboring Suffolk doubled that.
“Fines exist as a deterrent to people engaging in bad behavior,” said AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano told CBS2 last month he wants to add a $105 public safety fee to all tickets to help balance the budget and pay for more cops.
“I feel very strongly we need to hire another 150 police officers,” said Mangano.
However, those police officers would be earmarked for anti-terrorism, not road safety.
CBS2’s McLogan found no one paying tickets Wednesday had been cited for distracted driving.
“Public safety is the most important thing, so really focusing on distracted driving rather than raising fines on parking tickets,” said Lynbrook driver Nancy O’Reilly.
“We are part of community policing atmosphere. We don’t want to have to issue a ticket to every person that’s pulled over. Many times we will give stern warning, educate that person to dangers of distracted driving,” said Nassau County Detective Lt. Richard Lebrun.
AAA said police need to write more tickets, phones need new technology that prevents texting while driving, and everyone must stop fiddling with their phones while behind the wheel.
A police source said issuing more distracted driving tickets would be easier if cops are on foot patrol working in pairs.