Suffolk County Cops Offer Crash Avoidance Course All Week To Teenagers

WESTHAMPTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Cuomo today announced a summer crackdown in a bid to end texting while driving.

Teenagers got a crash course in Westhampton on Monday, learning from the inside of a police car the dangers of distracted driving.

“We hope they walk away and drive safer. That’s what we want them to do,” Suffolk County Police Det. Lt. Bob Donohue told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

The course left an impression on the teens.

“It was crazy. You’re out of control,” said Megan Friberg of Shoreham.

“It’s definitely a little scary,” added Alex Barnes of Smithtown.

The crash course on crash avoidance which was to be offered all week by Suffolk police coincided with beefed-up enforcement. More than 30 unmarked New York State Police SUVs were said to be patrolling parkways, enabling troopers to see which drivers are texting behind the wheel.

Tougher penalties were recently put into effect:

  •  Five points on your license
  •  Teen drivers face suspension

Cuomo, who was on Long Island on Monday, called distracted driving a crisis. The statistics appear to support his claim:

  •  3,000 teens die each year
  • 300,000 are injured
  •  And almost half of teens admit they text behind the wheel.

“This can be email, it can be text, and it can kill you or it can kill someone else,” the governor said.

Karen Torres said she now knows what happened to her family when a driver took his eyes off the road for two seconds.

“He barreled into a work zone and killed my father,” Torres said.

“That kind of carnage has got to stop. No texting while driving will save lives,” said state Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Oyster Bay).

Police and lawmakers said the crackdown is needed to change habits, especially of new teens drivers who are glued to their phones. Police said if they don’t get the message this way they’ll now get it from a suspended license.

The crash avoidance course is offered by Suffolk County police all week, free of charge.

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