Operation Hang Up targets drivers on phones

Posted at: 04/22/2013 5:50 PM
Updated at: 04/22/2013 6:17 PM
By: Beth Wurtmann

ALBANY - If you can't resist using your cell phone when you're behind the wheel, take note: this week the New York State Troopers are out to find you.

We rode along as Trooper Roy Swann hit the roads in an unmarked car, scouting for motorists violating the cell phone law.

Out on the Thruway, he spotted a woman talking away with her hand to her ear.

"Trooper Swan State Police. Reason I stopped you is that I saw you on the cell phone," he told the driver.

She did not deny it. And after handing over her license and registration, she got hit with a ticket. But troopers said, many drivers do try to give excuses that don't hold up.

'There's some denial. Some say, 'well I was on the cell phone, I was just calling my employer, my doctor,'" Swann said.

Not all traffic stops go that smoothly. Trooper Swan spotted another driver holding a hand to his ear and pulled the car over; only to find out the man's ear was bleeding.

"It's the first time it's every happened to me so ha! But we get to look," he said, adding that the driver did not need medical help.

Back out on the road, another unusual situation. After pulling over this white car, Trooper Swan learned that the driver was quite upset on her way from the hospital where she said a relative was sick.

Even though she had been using her cell phone, the State trooper made a rare decision to give her a warning, not a ticket.

"She did indicate some extenuating circumstances. We as police officers can use our discretion on the roadside and that's what I did," Swann said,

Operation Hangup runs through Sunday, through an aggressive initiative launched by the Thruway Authority and Troop T.