State troopers have a new trick up their sleeves to catch motorists who are texting while driving.
The N.C. Highway Patrol has partnered with the N.C. Department of Transportation to use yellow DOT trucks for spotting texters on the road, according to a report by the Asheboro Courier Tribune.
Troopers in plain clothes have been driving the trucks mostly on U.S. Highway 64 near the Asheboro area. The extra set of eyes in a unexpected place have been very successful during the recent, week-long pilot program.
The N.C. Highway Patrol teams with the DOT, using their trucks as undercover vehicles.
The way the sting works is that when the truck-driving trooper spots a driver texting, he or she immediately contacts another trooper in a nearby, unmarked vehicle. That trooper stops the driver and writes the ticket.
“We’re thinking outside the box and stepping up our game on the highways,” 1st Sgt. Brett Williams told the newspaper.
The week’s worth of watching from trucks resulted in more than 10 tickets. The Randolph County patrol office will be using the buddy system with DOT trucks again in the near future.
If it works with DOT trucks, perhaps the patrol can use other types of undercover vehicles.
It’s certainly worth the effort. Texting behind the wheel has been called “the new drunk driving,” and an FCC report says text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. Other studies indicate that a driver on the phone the same reaction speed as someone legally intoxicated.
Most of us have seen drivers weaving while simply talking on the phone. Texting is practically insane. But more of these tickets should be a deterrent. According to the the paper, a texting while driving charge comes with court costs of $288.
A 2009 AAA Foundation study said that although 97 percent of drivers say texting and driving is unacceptable, one in seven admit to doing it.
As a driver, I’m definitely part of that 97 percent – but be clear – I never text and drive. The public should welcome these types of campaigns, and I hope that law enforcement will come up with more creative ideas to stop texting on the road.