Should SF Police set up distracted driving stings?Posted on Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
Texting and driving is against the law, but enforcing distracted driving laws is easier said than done. Last week in Fargo, North Dakota, police setup a sting operation designed to catch motorists breaking the state’s ban on texting while behind the wheel. Over the course of the two day sting, Fargo police issued a total of 17 tickets. However, the real question is whether the recent crackdown will have any lasting effects when it comes to deterring would be distracted drivers.
The sting required at least three officers and was paid for using federal grant money. One officer would sit in an unmarked car and observe drivers’ behavior while passing through—or being stopped at—a busy intersection. If the driver seemed to be fidgeting with their phone or typing for an extended period of time, the undercover officer would radio ahead so the offending party could be pulled over.
Despite what appeared to be texting-like behavior from some motorists, more than a few drivers were able to successfully prove they had not been texting. Regardless of whether a person was exhibiting distracted behavior, even with a sting specifically designed to catch people in the act of texting while driving, proving they were actually breaking the law was still a difficult task.
With distracted driving posing a serious risk to pedestrians, cyclists, and other motorists, actively reinforcing that texting while driving is illegal could be a good thing. Unfortunately, with the cost of enforcement as high as it is, would the police department be better off allocating resources elsewhere? According to Lt. Joel Vettel, Fargo police are wrestling with that very question and are currently evaluating the sting to determine whether this is something they want to do in the future.
What do you think, should SF Police be more proactive in ticketing people who are texting while driving? Do you think stings similar to the one in Fargo would actually make drivers think twice before taking out their cell phone? Or, is this a nearly unenforceable law that some people will continue to break regardless of the consequences?
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/3147786573/