Distracted driving awareness month may be over, but enforcement of these laws continues to be a priority for police officers all over the country. At the Lifesavers Conference on Highway Safety held this year in Nashville, Tenn., officers spoke about the various ways they are working hard to ticket texting offenders.
When distracted driving moved to the forefront as one of the most important driver safety issues a few years ago, there was concern over how to enforce all the new laws that were hitting the books. Many drivers just kept texting, thinking that the laws were not enforced. But with experience and motivation, police are finding creative ways to make sure drivers know they mean business.
Here are some ways you might get caught if you drive distracted.
- The Tennessee Highway Patrol is using a tractor-trailer to get a bird’s eye view into cars searching for texters and other offenders. The truck is not unmarked, but they found that distracted drivers often do not notice the 18-wheeler hovering beside them.
- Police in Danbury, Conn., among other cities, are searching for higher vantage points to look down on drivers to see inside the cabin at what they are doing with their phones.
- States including California, Connecticut, and New York ban the use of cell phones even when you are stopped at a traffic light. Police can easily ticket those drivers by just patrolling streets on foot.
- In Massachusetts, 74 percent of tickets given out during the distracted driving law enforcement period were from unmarked vehicles, so just because you don’t see a police officer doesn’t mean there isn’t one nearby.
- There is no tolerance if you receive a distracted driving ticket in most states. Officers are working to make sure they have enough details in the report to make sure you will lose if you contest and go to court.
The government and police realize the only way to end this epidemic is to crack down hard and their new national enforcement campaign “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” is an effort to do that. Fines in some states are up to $150. New York, for example, adds five points on your license on top of the stiff fine, which means you can easily lose your right to drive if you get caught more than once.
Simple answer: Hang up and drive. If you must text, pull over to a safe location and have at it.
—Liza BarthDistracted driving
See our special section to learn more about the dangers of using phones and doing other nondriving tasks behind the wheel.
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