Started “Hands Off the Phone and On the Wheel” Distracted Driving Initiative

Safety must be a priority of the elected officials.  Many of us may remember the days before strict drunk driving laws. Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other local groups joined with legislators and, together, they made it unacceptable and illegal to drive drunk or without buckling up.  They made a difference!  As a result, countless lives have been saved.   Similar movements are starting with distracted driving.  We have such a movement here in New Castle.  In fact, New Castle is leading the effort to combat this dangerous epidemic on our roads.  

Before becoming Supervisor, Rob Greenstein spoke to students at Horace Greeley High School students and parents about the dangers of distracted driving. Click photo to read covergae.

In 2014, seven months after Greenstein, Brodsky & Katz started their terms, Ben Lieberman appeared before the Town Board – during our new community segment – to talk about DORC’s.  After Ben’s presentation, Supervisor Greenstein said we need to be leaders in this area.  We now are!

A few months later, we started our “Hands Off the Phone and On the Wheel” initiative for New Castle.  We designed and introduced distracted driving banners.  Those banners can be seen throughout Town and in the Horace Greeley High School parking lot.  We designed and introduced car magnets.  Those car magnets can be seen throughout town.   New Castle Police Department increased distracted driving enforcement.  Since the initiative began in October 2014, the New Castle Police Department has issued over 1,000 tickets for distracted driving violations.   In 2016 Fines & Forfeited Bail increased $134,848 due to our distracted driving efforts.  We started a Distracted Driver Diversion Course for persons ticketed for distracted driving offenses in New Castle.  We created a distracted driving video to train police officers on techniques to enforce texting-while-driving laws and investigating mobile devices as a possible contributing factor at crash scenes.

•Worked with NYS Senator Terrence Murphy, Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz and Ben Lieberman to introduce a bipartisan state bill called “Evan’s Law”, named after Ben’s 19-year-old son, making New York the first state to attempt a distracted driving policy that enables police to examine phones at an accident site – using the “Textalyzer”.  Click photo to read coverage.The “Textalyzer” and proposed legislation has received National media attention including coverage on CNN, NY Times, Washington Post, Daily News, NBC and CBS News.
• Created a distracted driving public service video which documents the heartbreaking story of Evan Lieberman, the “textalyzer” and our effort to change habits and laws regarding distracted driving. Our efforts have been noticed throughout the country. Other police departments are using our video to train their officers. Click graphic to watch video.
•Gov. Cuomo has directed his Traffic Safety Committee to examine the “textalyzer”technology. Click here to read coverage.
• New Castle Police Department was asked to do a presentation about our “Hands Off the Phone and On the Wheel” initiative at the NY Safety Highway Symposium.
• New Castle Police Department received an award NY Safety Highway Symposium for our work on this critical safety initiative.

• National Highway Traffic Safety Administration expressed their support for our distracted driving initiative, and our “demonstrated leadership on this critical highway safety issue”.   They plan on highlighting our activities to other jurisdictions as a “Promising Practice”.
• American Automobile Association will be highlighting New Caste’s Distracted Driving as a model for distracted driving enforcement/education efforts and how communities throughout New York could follow our lead. This report will be distributed to police departments, legislators, and media across the state.
• New Castle Police Chief Charles Ferry, Police Officer Chad Golanec and Ben Lieberman will be presenting “Advances in Combating Distracted Driving” at the 2017 Empire State Law Enforcement Traffic Safety Conference on April 6th. The program notes that our initiative has earned the support and admiration of the community and is being duplicated in other areas.