Texting and driving has become one of the most serious threats to traffic safety, and despite efforts at the federal, state and local level, people continue to practice this potentially deadly behavior.
Some law enforcement officials are beginning to get creative in their quest to identify and stop texting while driving, and the methods they are using may surprise you.S
The Problem of Texting and Driving
More than 3,400 people died in 2015 and another 391,000 suffered injuries as the result of distracted driving, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Texting while behind the wheel is one of the major examples of distracted driving, which is defined as “any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system–anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.”
Texting has become so commonplace that most people see nothing wrong with continuing the activity while they are driving. That is partly because many drivers believe that their brain can accomplish two tasks at the same time, but studies have shown that the human brain does not multitask; rather it shuttles between two or more tasks, depriving you of focus and concentration.
The NHTSA has partnered with local police throughout the U.S. to publicize the dangers of texting and driving under the slogan, “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”
Police In Michigan Go Stealth To Curtail Texting and Driving
That slogan is part of the reason that police in Michigan have adopted an undercover program, known as Operation Ghostrider, to catch drivers who text on the road.
Under this operation, police are occupying unmarked cars and SUVs to catch motorists who are driving and texting. In Michigan, drivers are permitted to hold a phone as they drive, but they are not allowed to text, which can become a gray area when police pull offenders over and are told that they were not texting, but “looking for directions, dialing a phone number or doing some other legal task when confronted.”
Since the program began in April, more than 140 people have been stopped, and 100 citations have been issued for texting while driving. And the citations are not cheap, as the first infraction is a $100 fine, which increases to $200 for each additional citation.
But Michigan police officers would prefer to only hand out a single citation to a driver, because repeat offenders are clearly not getting the message.
“When we pull people over, we’re trying to change behavior,” stated Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw. “…anytime you take your mind off driving you’re still distracted.”
In one egregious example, Shaw recounted an incident in which a woman was texting at a red light and continued texting as the light turned green and she drove through the intersection without once looking up from her phone.
Shaw pulled the woman over and cited her. But the truth is, she will likely text and drive again, and the next time, it may end up causing a devastating traffic accident.
Seeking An Advocate
When you suffer injuries in a car wreck, you shouldn’t just look for a personal injury firm, you should seek an advocate such as Hardesty, Tyde, Green & Ashton, P.A., who understand what you’ve lost and will fight to restore your peace of mind through rightful compensation. Call us today for a free legal consultation.