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Police are Watching: Texting and Driving

Everyone knows the dangers of texting and driving. We’ve all seen the PSAs on TV, the warnings online, and cautionary tales in the news. However, texting and driving is still claiming lives, and the number is only rising. Those who drive while sending or reading text messages are 23 times more likely to be involved in a car crash than other drivers, says Don’t Text and Drive.  A crash can happen within just three seconds after a driver becomes distracted. Taking your eyes off the road for just five seconds to send that text or post to Facebook is equivalent to the length of a football field when driving at 55 MPH.

Despite its rampant use, fines and arrests for smart phone use while driving is not as easy to crack down on as you may think. Unfortunately, texting while driving is usually seen as the cause of an auto accident AFTER it has already occurred. Aside from simply rolling up beside a driver who is obviously texting behind the wheel, how can police enforce the ban on texting?

Well, police across the country are starting to resort to unique strategies to catch texting drivers, including donning construction worker gear or posing as a panhandler, says The Wall Street Journal. Other strategies place plain-clothes officers in unmarked cars who can alert police vehicles up ahead with the license plate numbers of offenders they’ve spotted. They may even be planted on school and city buses to catch texting drivers who should be concentrating on the road.

The Ban on Text

In many states, texting while driving is illegal. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures:

  • Hand-held cell phone use ban: 14 states
  • All cell phone ban: While no state bans all cell phone use for all drivers, 37 states don’t allow cell phone use by novice or teen drivers.
  • Text messaging ban: 46 states

Texting is just one part in a bigger problem: distracted driving. This can range from texting and calling while driving to eating or even applying makeup while driving. In today’s digital world where everything is accessible at any time, it can be nearly impossible for drivers these days to ignore these distractions and keep their eyes on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says distracted driving caused 3,477 fatalities in 2015 alone.

That’s why police are getting creative in how they catch texters behind the wheel. California is just one state that bans the use of cell and smart phones even when drivers are stopped at a red light. Officers on foot can ticket offending drivers they spot just by patrolling the streets. A bird’s-eye view is also a great way to catch people in the act. Police are putting themselves higher up in tractor trailers, for instance, to spot texters in cars below.

Fines around the country can hit up to $150 for the offense, says Consumer Reports, so if you want to avoid a ticket, pull over in a safe area to call or text.

In California specifically, drivers cannot use their phones unless they’re using voice activation and the device is mounted on the dashboard or windshield. The fine if caught? $20 for the first offense and $50 for each offense after that.

At any given time in this country, 660,000 drivers are on their cell phones or other mobile devices. Don’t become a statistic just because you had to adjust your playlist, take a selfie or update your social media status. For those who don’t text and drive, you’re not safe either, as many drivers around you are driving distracted and can easily swerve into your lane. Be aware of what’s going on around you and keep both hands on the wheel.

Contact Power Legal Group

If you are the victim of a text and drive crash, call Power Legal Group immediately after seeking medical attention. We can provide you with a free initial consultation and case evaluation at 800-323-POWER.

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