San Bernardino Police have resorted to an unusual approach to stopping and catching distracted drivers. Police officers in San Bernardino, California have been dressing as panhandlers clutching cardboard signs that read “I am NOT homeless. SB Police looking for seatbelt/cell phone violations.” Chief Jarrod Burguan stated in a press release that undercover officers walked up to the windows of many vehicles unnoticed by the drivers who were either talking or texting on their cell phones.
Moreover, San Bernardino police officer Donald Sawyer said that they had a woman driving who had no seat belt on, was talking on her phone and was putting on mascara all at the same time while driving. In addition, Detective Devin Peck reported that in just two hours, they stopped 54 people and issued 39 tickets for distracted driving. The penalty for distracted driving in San Bernardino is $162 for a first-time offense and $285 for a second offense.
Related: Kentucky Texting And Driving Law Continue To Concern Police
Not everyone is happy with this tactic
The strategy of dressing up as homeless people to catch law violators is actually not new. Three years ago, the tactic “Hobo Cops” was performed. This was where police officers in Canada disguised themselves as panhandlers to catch drivers using their cell phones while driving. However, this was criticized by anti-poverty activists who said that it damaged the already strangled reception of beggars from motorists and diminished their daily take. Just a few months ago, Montreal police did the same thing, but their tactic was considered by motorists as inappropriate and an invasion of privacy.
- Cell phones are involved in 1.6 million auto crashes each year.
- Ninety-eight percent of adults are aware that texting and driving is unsafe, yet 49% admit to doing it.
- In 2013, there were 3,154 people killed and an estimated additional 424,000 injured in auto crashes involving distracted drivers.
Distracted driving in Kentucky
While police in Kentucky haven’t disguised themselves in order to catch distracted drivers, yet, Kentucky has created an app to help reduce the problem. In 2014, Kentucky launched TextLimit.com, an innovative smartphone app that restricts touch screen and call functions while the device is in a moving vehicle. This was considered the first distracted driving app in the nation. While Kentucky was the first to have this new and high-tech solution for the epidemic of texting and driving, the state still had 53,000 crashes in 2014. Those accidents resulted in more than 14,000 injuries and 169 fatalities due to distracted driving.
Related: AT&T Expands “It Can Wait” Campaign Against Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is not limited to texting while driving. It also includes: eating while driving, sleeping, applying cosmetics and updating your social media accounts. As a Kentucky Accident Attorney, I urge all drivers to stay focused on the road and not on anything else. Refrain from texting or eating while driving. It can wait. You need to keep both hands on the wheel, follow the traffic rules, stay safe and most importantly, enjoy the ride!