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NY State Troopers Tell Motorists: Put The Phone Away To Avoid Deadly Distracted Driving

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As Central New York motorists start to hit the road again with fewer pandemic restrictions and warmer months, AAA of Central New York is teaming up with local partners during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.  The panel is urging drivers to put their smart phones away while driving.

State Trooper James O’Callaghan says distracted driving is the leading cause for all traffic collisions.

 “Unfortunately we see an increase in distracted driver rather than a decrease with all the education we put out there.  Not only the members here but in other organizations and law enforcement. This is serious and also growing. ”

He adds that young drivers are having a hard time putting their phones away when driving, creating a recipe for disaster.  The State has seen an alarming nearly 685 collisions so far this year caused by distracted driving.  There were more than 3,000 last year.   O’Callaghan adds that it also causes many road rage incidents, too.  Senator Timothy Kennedy says a State Trooper lost his life this month because of a distracted driver.

“I sadly had to attend a funeral for one of own and one of the very best New York State troopers Joseph J. Gallagher who died at the hands of a distracted driver right here in New York.”   

Drivers are 23 times more likely to get into a collision while using a smart phone, but 77 percent of teens say they’re confident they’ll be ok.  Assemblymember Bill Magnarelli says the Assembly Transportation committee is looking at ways to enforce against distracted driving.

 “There is currently a proposal from the New York State department of motor vehicle to ban all cell phone use for drivers under the age of eighteen.”  

The “It Can Wait” campaign launched 12 years ago to show the dangers of distracted driving and has partnered with AAA and the state police ever since to educate drivers.   One of AT&T’s recent studies revealed that over 95 percent of people say distracted driving is a problem, but more than 80 percent admit to having done it.  Spokesperson Kevin Hanna says that while there’s some great technology in cars, there is no substitute for an alert driver with their eyes on the road.  The NTSB says more than 3,100 people died from distracted driving crashes in 2019.  You can visit to take the pledge against distracted driving and learn more.

Attached is Virtual Press Conference Announcement With AAA Upstate New York: 

This Month, and Every Day, Don’t Drive Distracted!

AAA, Senator Kennedy, Senator Cooney, Assembly Member Magnarelli, NYS Police, AT&T Partner to Call Attention to Distracted Driving Awareness Month as COVID Restrictions Ease and Traffic Returns

WHEN:           Monday, April 19, 2021, 10:00 a.m.

WHERE:         Zoom Meeting – media welcome to ask questions

Meeting ID: 883 9090 5733
Passcode: 967290


WHO:             • Senator Timothy Kennedy, Chairman of the Committee on Transportation

• Senator Jeremy Cooney, Member of the Transportation Committee

• Assembly Member William Magnarelli, Chairman of the NYS Assembly's Transportation Committee

• Tony Spada, AAA WCNY, President and CEO

• Kevin Hanna, AT&T, Director of External Affairs

• Trooper James O’Callaghan, PIO, New York State Police, Troop A

• Elizabeth Carey, AAA WCNY, Director of Public Relations

• April Engram, AAA WCNY, Communications Specialist


WHAT:           As traffic begins to pick up across the region with increased vaccinations and decreased pandemic restrictions, seasonal road work underway, students returning to school, businesses expanding hours and spring enthusiasts out and about, AAA reminds drivers about the importance of focusing on the road ahead and not on their smartphones. April is National Distracted Driving Awareness month – a time for safety resolutions for the rest of the year.


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2019 distracted driving crashes killed 3,142 people in the U.S., a 10 percent increase from 2018. NYS Police note that distracted driving is on the rise locally.


AAA WCNY is pleased to collaborate with community partners and elected officials to share the important message, “Don’t drive intoxicated, don’t drive intexticated” and AT&T’s, “It Can Wait.” With growing distractions amid the ongoing pandemic, traffic safety is more important than ever before.


Join us for a virtual press conference with media interviews, b-roll and images provided.

As Upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 887,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at or or download our mobile app at