West Virginia outlawed texting while driving in 2012 for a good reason. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at the time found that 3092 people died on the road due to distracted driving while 416,000 were injured. Distracted behaviors included texting, staring at a device, picking up something dropped on the floor, or changing the radio.
Those numbers have continued to go up due to increased use of devices, leading law enforcement to redouble their efforts to catch distracted drivers so that they do not injure themselves or other drivers on the road.
Minnesota gets creative with enforcement
Distracted driving can be harder to spot because law enforcement cannot easily track where a driver’s eyes are looking. In Minnesota recently, they came up with some unusual approaches:
- Going undercover: Instead of the usual uniform, officers posed as construction workers, utility workers and even panhandlers at stoplights. These people may register with the driver, but they soon turned their eyes to their device or elsewhere, prompting officers to issue tickets.
- Riding the bus: Officers used public transport and school buses to identify distracted drivers because they could look down into the vehicle from the higher vantage point of the bus. Officers would then notify a nearby squad car.
Distracted driving is avoidable
It is a fact that no one is forced to look at their device while driving on the streets and highways here in West Virginia, Minnesota or elsewhere. Drivers who spot others driving erratically or sitting at a green light should try to stay away. Unfortunately, this may not be enough, leaving these innocent folks victims to other peoples’ negligence.