Police On Long Island Kick Off Campaign To Curb Distracted Driving

After a long pandemic lull, our roads are busy as ever, and Wednesday, police kicked off a campaign on Long Island to curb dangerous distracted driving that's worse than ever; CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reports.

Video Transcript

JESSICA MOORE: Well you may have noticed traffic is back. After a long pandemic lull our roads are as busy as ever.

DICK BRENNAN: And today, police kicked off a campaign on Long Island to curb dangerous distracted driving that's apparently worse than ever. CBS 2's Carolyn Gusoff reports from Syosset.

CAROLYN GUSOFF: Nassau police out in force all month pulling over distracted drivers, including an emotional Ida Gress from Wantagh who explains she was taking an emergency medical call from her brother.

IDA GRESS: I just to put him in the speaker and I kept driving, and they caught me.

CAROLYN GUSOFF: The law is clear, you cannot hold a phone to talk or text while driving including at a red light. Nassau police suspect distracted driving in three fatal crashes in the last three weeks. And Wednesday state police laid to rest trooper Joseph Gallagher, hit by a distracted driver texting and using social media; a deadly habit that kills.

PATRICK RYDER: Picking up this phone-- one two. You just went 50 yards in two seconds at 55 miles an hour. Two seconds, you go a half a football field.

CAROLYN GUSOFF: Officials warn the pandemic is making it worse. More local driving due to working from home, more trucks with deliveries, more people buying cars, on Long Island more than 120,000 extra cars since 2019.

MARC HERBST: I think people are not comfortable with mass transit and there's a love affair with the automobile on Long Island. And people are working from home so they're doing shorter trips to and from throughout the day.

CAROLYN GUSOFF: And more distraction says Nassau County executive Laura Curran, a working mom.

LAURA CURRAN: Especially as parents, people are overly more reliant than they used to be on that phone. And when there's that work call coming or that text that has to be returned, that puts a lot of pressure on people.

CAROLYN GUSOFF: This driver grateful to be given just a warning and has one for fellow drivers.

IDA GRESS: That's for the benefit of the people, to avoid having any accidents.

CAROLYN GUSOFF: The penalty for distracted driving is $376.00 and 5 points on your license which results in higher insurance premiums for years. In Syosset, Long Island, Carolyn Gusoff, CBS 2 News.