New tactics to catch texting and driving save lives

Unmarked cars help combat dangerous driving habits

Adah Koivula

Texting and driving accounted for 61 deaths in 2014, according to the Minnesota Office of Safety. People need to get off their phones and save their lives, and this can be achieved through the State Patrol’s new tactics.

Law enforcement should do whatever it takes to drill into people’s heads the dangers of texting and driving. Everyone’s priority should be to put the phone away and concentrate on the road as ticket prices climb to $300.

Texting and driving remains one of the worst distractions for a driver because it reduces visual, cognitive and manual concentration. It diminishes the driver’s ability to focus on the road, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Although texting while drivings is illegal in Minnesota, teenage drivers have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In Minnesota, officers began a new tactic by adding five unmarked squad cars to the State Patrol to catch distracted drivers. The cars will monitor Brainerd, Marshall, Mankato and the east and west Metro.

In Bethesda, Maryland, the Montgomery County police officers made national news attempting to catch texting and driving violators by disguising as homeless people with a sign saying “I am not homeless. I am a Montgomery County police officer looking for cell phone texting violations.”

According to the Montgomery County Police Department, in two hours officers handed out 35 citations and 13 warnings for using a phone without a hands-free device.

Some criticize the department for making a mockery of homeless people, but for catching texting and driving, it’s a justifiable offense.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 3,154 people died because of distracted driving in 2013 and 424,000 people were injured because of accidents involving distracted drivers.

Officers should do whatever necessary to catch violators until everyone understands that by texting and driving they put everyone around them at risk.