Rochester, N.Y. - The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is encouraging the public to get involved with a program that is designed to help crack down on distracted drivers.
"Hopefully it will be a nice reminder that it is a dangerous behavior," said Patrick O'Flynn, Monroe County Sheriff.
Drivers who observe others engaged in distracted driving while behind the wheel, can visit www.monroecountysheriff.info and fill out a form on the incident.
The owner of the vehicle will receive a “warning letter.”
The Sheriff said that receiving a letter will not result in a fine or a penalty. Rather, he hopes the letter serves as a reminder that distracted driving is illegal and dangerous.
Ontario County began a similar program in 2010, and Ontario County Sheriff Phil Povero said he considers the program to be very helpful.
Since the program began, Sheriff Povero said his office has received about 150 reports from citizens about distracted drivers. He has received some responses from people who got a “warning letter” in the mail. He said many of them were positive.
“Some people explained that they weren't driving the car, but they spoke to a friend or a family member that was, and they encouraged them that it's for their safety,” Povero explained. “The program is for the safety of the drivers and the passengers in the car, and the other people in the highways.”
Despite the program, Povero said the number of distracted driving tickets and accidents has increased in the county in the last few years, and mirror the state and nationwide trend.
Povero said there is no accurate way to measure the program’s effectiveness, but if a letter in the mail can prevent at least one deadly accident, he says the program is worth it.
Sheriff O’Flynn said people have already been calling the 911 center to report distracted drivers, and this program is just an opportunity for citizens to get involved.
Individuals convicted for talking or texting behind the wheel may receive points on their license, and could be fined between $150 and $200 dollars.