A story today from the Associated Press (h/t Watertown Daily Times) describes a new effort in New York state to curb texting while driving: The state has given State Police 32 “tall” SUVs (they’re unmarked, and judging by the photos that accompany the article, not massively recognizable). Police can look into drivers’ cars from above and see what they’re up to, and can then pull said drivers over and give them tickets for texting while driving. Said tickets can cost a driver $150 or more plus five points on the license (here’s the details from the state DMV.)
Texting while driving is, not surprisingly, incredibly dangerous (and I say this as someone who has in the past driven with her knees while pawing through a cooler for sandwiches. But not anymore, mom…) According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (via the AP article), “more than 3,300 people were killed and 421,000 injured in crashes caused by distracted driving last year.” If you’re still unconvinced, watch this horrifying documentary on texting while driving by filmmaker Werner Herzog:
Purely on a visceral level, some might find the notion of police peering into your lap as you drive slightly unsettling. But police have the right to stop you if they see you thumb typing, no matter how they find out: Texting while driving became a “primary offense” in 2011, which means they can stop you just for that.
Governors Highway Safety Association deputy executive director Jonathan Adkins told the AP the approach is “intriguing,” and said it’s “one that we think will pay dividends and be duplicated in other states.”
So what do you think? Is this a big deal, or practical if slightly odd-sounding law enforcement and safety measure? Are you feeling self conscious? Are you planning on keeping your hands in the 10 and 2 positions all the time now, even when you’re not driving?