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Distracted Driver

U Drive. U. Text. U Pay.

The National Distracted Driving Enforcement campaign, “U Drive. U Text. U Pay,”  is designed to raise public awareness about the consequences of texting and driving, focusing on the message "If you're texting, you're not driving."  Join us in our commitment to drive phone-free by taking the pledge.

What is distracted driving?

It includes any type of behavior that takes your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off driving.  All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. Types include:

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming/putting on makeup
  • Reading (including maps)
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video, adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

Text messaging is by far the most alarming distraction as it requires the drivers’ visual, manual, and cognitive attention.

New York State law prohibits all drivers from using portable electronic devices while their vehicle is in motion including: 

  • Talking on a handheld mobile telephone
  • Composing, sending, reading, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving, or retrieving electronic data such as e-mail, text messages, or webpages
  • Viewing, taking, or transmitting images
  • Playing games

A police officer may stop you if you are observed using a hand held device.  There are violation penalties and fines.  Penalties includes driver violation points and a fine. The fight to end distracted driving starts with you.


Mature / Older Driver

Getting older does not necessarily mean a person's driving days are over. It is important to plan ahead and take steps to ensure safety on the road.  

How can you evaluate your driving? 

It is important to understand mind and body changes.  Those changes could occur with vision, hearing, medical conditions and medications, reaction time, and mind/cognitive changes.  Improve your driving skills by recognizing your personal limitations and by:

  • preparing for your drive (Safe driving tips)
  • learning how to handle unexpected situations
  • avoid driving in poor weather conditions
  • assessing the risks related to traffic volume, time of day, etc.

Mature/older drivers want to maintain their independence and mobility.  How can this be accomplished?  Visit AAA Senior Driving to find the answers. 

What is CarFit for the older driver?

CarFit is an educational program offering mature/older adults the opportunity to check how well their personal vehicles "fit" them.  The program includes individual adjustments to help drivers find their best “fit” in their vehicle, allowing them to benefit from the vehicle’s safety features, feel more comfortable and have better control.  CarFit offers informational and instructional videos online.

Driver Safety Programs

Driver safety programs improve adult driver safety by addressing cognitive abilities and skills. AARP Driver Safety.  AARP offers educational programming including the Smart Driver Course, Driving Resource Center, CarFit, and We Need to Talk as resources to assist older drivers to remain independent, safe and confident while on the road.

The Help of Others

The Dutchess County Traffic Safety Board distributes information on mature/older driver for both the drivers and families at the Office for the Aging senior picnics during the summer season.  It is very important for families to keep the lines of communication open Mom and Dad We Need to Talk).  Are You Concerned about an Older Driver provides valuable information on resources.


Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving is the operation of a motor vehicle in an unsafe and hostile manner without regard for others.  Aggressive driving behavior may include: making frequent or unsafe lane changes, failing to signal or yield the right of way, tailgating and disregarding traffic controls. These are offenses under NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law.

What can you do to avoid driving aggressively?
What should you do when confronted by an aggressive driver?

The NYS Police and local police agencies conduct traffic enforcement details in an effort to cut down on dangerous aggressive driving behaviors, in particular excessive speed and reckless driving, throughout the state. The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee’s Police Traffic Services grant supports agencies that conduct enforcement and public information and education campaigns which specifically target the aggressive driving behaviors listed below.

Road Rage

Extreme acts of physical assault that result from disagreements between drivers are a form of aggression commonly called "Road Rage."  These disagreements usually start with either a real or a perceived offense. It could be something as serious as a near-collision, or it could be something as trivial as one car going too slowly to suit the driver of the car behind it. Either way, the offended driver becomes enraged and decides to teach the other driver a lesson. From there, road rage can progress to screaming and rude gestures, aggressive driving, an unnecessary car accident, or even assault and violence.  However the NYS State Police have pointed out that there is a difference between aggressive driving and so called "road rage". "Road Rage", such as using the vehicle as a weapon or physically assaulting a driver or their vehicle, is NOT aggressive driving. These are criminal offenses, and there are penal laws (assault, harassment, vehicular assault, reckless endangerment, etc.) in place to deal with these violent crimes.


Teen Driving

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 14-18 year olds in the US. In fact, in 2013, there were 2,614 teen (15-19 year old) passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes and an estimated 130,000 were injured.  The vast majority of these crashes are caused either directly or indirectly by driver inexperience.  Simply put, young and newly licensed drivers are much more likely to be involved in a crash than more experienced drivers.

NYS Graduated Licensing

The NYS Graduated Driver License Program limits the driving privileges for New York drivers under the age of 18 and who posses either a junior learners permit or a junior drivers license (Class DJ, MJ or DJMJ). Some of the limitations placed on the young drivers include where in New York State they can drive and what times of the day they are permitted to drive. Understanding the privileges and limitations is extremely important because if you do not comply with these restrictions, your junior learner permit or junior driver license could be suspended or revoked for 60 days.  

Teenagers are eligible to obtain their learner’s permit once they turn 16. After they have held their learners permit for six months they are eligible for their junior driver’s license.

Important Safety Reminders

  • Buckle up. Don’t leave the driveway without yourself and each passenger being secured
  • Eliminate distractions (using a cell phone or smartphone, eating, grooming, etc.)
  • Ease up on the gas pedal by not speeding
  • Never drink and drive
  • Follow the rules of the road
  • Remain alert to the road ahead
  • Avoid night driving with other teen passengers, especially on weekends


The best teaching tool for your teen is your example. If you tell your teen to obey the speed limit do you speed?  Will you be able to get your teen to buckle up if you don’t use a seat belt when you drive?  Be mindful of continuing to set a good example.

Before your teen starts to drive get the facts  such as driver education, licensing, and risks.  As your teen drives with supervision you can help them  to be a safer driver. You can prepare your teen for driving on their own by understanding state laws, insurance, and requirements.  Thus you can help shape your teen into a safe, responsible driver.  NYS DMV Younger Driver Resources provides information on monitor my teen driver program  (TEENS), forms, etc.


Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving is falling asleep when driving or not paying attention when driving due to fatigue. Sleepiness and driving is a dangerous combination. Most people are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving but don’t realize that drowsy driving can be just as fatal. Like alcohol, sleepiness slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment and increases your risk of crashing.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates conservatively that each year drowsy driving is responsible for at least 83,000 automobile crashes, 37,000 injury crashes, 45,000 property damage only crashes, and 890 fatalities.  Most drowsy driving crashes happen at predictable times. We are most likely to feel fatigued, and our risk of being involved in a drowsy driving-related crash increases between 1 pm - 4 pm and 2 am - 6 am.  But among all the major factors that cause or contribute to crashes, like speeding, alcohol use, and weather situations, drowsiness is the most difficult for police and other crash investigators to detect and quantify.

Who’s at risk?

What are the warning signs?  What are the facts and statistics? What are the countermeasures?  How can drowsy driving be prevented? Please download these key messages/facts from the National Sleep Foundation.

Good “hygiene” is anything that helps you to have a healthy life. Sleep hygiene helps you stay healthy by keeping your mind and body rested and strong. Following these tips from New York’s Partnership Against Drowsy Driving will help you sleep better and feel your best. Take the Sleep Quiz to see if you are getting enough sleep.


Motorcycle Safety

Vehicle and Traffic Law

ARTICLE 34-A — OPERATION OF MOTORCYCLES section 1250, 1251, 1252, 1253 provide traffic laws on operating a motorcycle in NYS

There are two organizations setting safety standards for motorcycle helmets in the United States, the Federal Government's Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Snell Memorial Foundation. DOT sets minimum standards that all helmets sold for motorcycling on public streets must meet. The standard is Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218 (FMVSS 218) and is known commonly as the DOT helmet standard.

In NYS all motorcycle operators and passengers must wear approved motorcycle helmets (Article 9, section 381-6) as defined by USDOT federal motor vehicle safety standards.  This standard establishes minimum performance requirements for helmets designed for use by motorcyclists and other motor vehicle users. The purpose of this standard is to reduce deaths and injuries to motorcyclists and other motor vehicle users resulting from head impacts.  To improve the motorcyclist's visibility, it is recommend that helmets have at least four square inches of reflective material on both sides.

Some motorcycle riders are violating State laws by wearing unsafe helmets that do not meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218.  Most of these helmets are sold as novelty items and circumvent the requirements.  Some motorcyclists purchase these helmets mistakenly believing that they offer protection.  How can you identify unsafe novelty helmets  as well as distinguish unsafe helmets from those that meet the Federal safety standard?

All motorcycle operators must wear approved eye protection even if the motorcycle is equipped with a windshield.  Any windshield must also be of an approved type.  Prescription or made-to-order safety glasses may be used if the user can present written certification that they meet DMV standards.  The eye protection must be manufactured in conformity with the regulations established by the American National Standard Institute (ANSI – Z87.1).   However, DMV recommends approved goggles or a face-shield for full protection.


NYS Department of Motor Vehicles Motorcycle Manual—Preparing to Ride provides guidelines to help you enjoy a safer ride.

More than 90% of riders involved in accidents had no formal training.  Have you had formal training? This is one of eleven tips in Tips for Safer Motorcycling


The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has established a rider-funded motorcycle safety program (MSF) as required by legislation signed in 1997. The primary purpose of the motorcycle safety program is to have rider education accessible and affordable throughout New York State. A program goal is to reduce the number of motorcyclist injuries and fatalities with an emphasis on rider education and motorist awareness of motorcycles. The program uses a nationally recognized motorcycle training curriculum developed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation .  The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is the internationally recognized developer of the comprehensive, research based, Rider Education and Training System (RETS). RETS curricula promotes lifelong learning for motorcyclists and continuous professional development for certified RiderCoaches (SM) and other trainers.  MSF also actively participates in government relations, safety research, public awareness campaigns and the provision of technical assistance to state training and licensing programs.   The SmartRider Motorcycle Safety Program, Inc. has been providing instruction and hands on training in the Hudson Valley since 2001.