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6 ways cops catch you texting and driving.
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  1. #1
    Senior Member oddpedestrian's Avatar
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    6 ways cops catch you texting and driving.

    Forty-four states ban all drivers from texting behind the wheel, but that doesn't seem to stop many of us.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that at any given daytime moment, over 600,000 drivers are using cell phones or other electronic devices while they are driving. In 2012, over 421,000 drivers were injured due to distracted driving, and 3,328 people were killed, the agency says.

    Texting is among the most dangerous forms of distracted driving, tripling the risk of a crash, but it is often difficult to detect. "If a person is hiding their electronic device in their lap or other less than obvious place it can be hard for an officer to observe them texting," says a New York State Police spokesperson.

    Does a texting ticket really count?




    While texting is illegal in most states, a violation is treated very differently depending on where you live. Fines for a first-time offense vary from as little as $20 to as much as $250. About a third of states assign driver's license points or consider a texting ticket a moving violation. Others specifically prohibit use of a texting ticket as a reason to raise insurance rates.

    If a texting ticket does hit your record, insurers typically see it as a minor infraction, says Insurance.com managing editor Des Toups. "It's like a speeding ticket for 5 mph over. Your rate shouldn't go up if that's the only thing on your record. If you have other tickets as well, it could be a different story."

    A texting ticket involving an accident is more serious. Fines typically jump dramatically, and an injury accident can even bring a year in jail in Maryland.

    Here is a quick rundown on the latest techniques the police are employing to spot texters.

    The panhandler on the corner



    The next time a panhandler approaches your car, you had better put your phone down, at least if you live in Canada.

    Canadian cops dress up as panhandlers in order to get up close and personal with drivers. Officers in Ontario and British Columbia have slipped on hoodies, donned baseball caps and clutched tattered cardboard signs (complete with misspellings) before hitting busy street corners.

    Welcome to Operation Hobo Cop.

    Their cardboard signs offer an upbeat message on one side and a clear warning on the other. One read, "My name is Constable Mike Cairns. If you are reading this sign you are about to get a cell phone ticket."

    Despite clearly identifying themselves on their signs, the Canadian cops often had to tap on the window in order to get a driver to look up from their phone.

    Officers in one Burlington, Ontario, handed out 61 tickets in a single day, only to shatter that total the very next day with 111 citations written.

    The trucker in the next lane




    Elevated SUVs and even 18-wheelers give officers a bird's-eye view of a driver's hands. If they appear to be texting, it's citation time.

    Last year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo committed $1 million toward putting modified Chevy Tahoes on the road that sit higher than other vehicles. He also raised the fines associated with texting and driving. First-time offenders are hit with a fee of between $50 and $150 as well as a whopping five points on their licenses.

    The high-riding SUVs worked: New York State troopers handed out 5,553 distracted driving tickets in a two-month period last summer, compared with 924 in the same period a year earlier.

    Cops in Tennessee are going even higher, cruising 18-wheelers to peer into passenger cars. They radio their findings to troopers in patrol cars who do the actual ticketing.

    The spotter on the overpass




    Visibility is key to catching drivers in the act of texting, and an overpass is the perfect vantage point.

    NHTSA recently awarded $2.3 million to Connecticut so that towns there could experiment with various high-visibility enforcement measures, including overpass spying.

    It works like this: A spotter stands in an area where he can clearly see vehicles passing below at a slower speed. Intersections, stop signs and stoplights are common stalking grounds. When the officer observes a violation, he radios waiting officers who issue the citation. Spotters give a clear description, including the color of the car, color of phone and even which hand they were holding it in.

    If all of this feels like an invasion of privacy, it isn't. According to Adam Rosenblum with The Rosenblum Law Firm in New York City, "the 'plain view' doctrine dictates that a driver does not have a privacy right in anything that can be observed in plain view (e.g. through a window). Therefore, a high-riding SUV or even binoculars that would give an outsider a better vantage point poses no constitutional issues."

    Your own cellphone records

    This is not a commonly used tactic unless you have been involved in a car accident that resulted in an injury or death.

    If the police believe texting led to an accident they will gladly pursue your phone records. "If we believe someone had been texting and driving we can go through a process to obtain those phone records," Trooper Jeff Petucci of the Pennsylvania State Police told CentralPa.com.

    "It's not an automatic thing, but at the same time if it's a crash that causes serious injury and death we're going to look at that angle if someone has been texting and driving," Petucci says.

    You, staring at your own lap



    Drivers busy with their phones tend to be obvious. They drive slowly, hesitate at lights and are prone to weaving. Display any of these behaviors and there is a good chance you will be pulled over.

    According to Omar Jaleel, an attorney in Oak Brook, Illinois, your behavior can lead to a ticket. "The police report for many of my clients state that the cab of the car was illuminated by the phone or that the person was looking down and making movements like someone who is texting."

    Sometimes the distraction is beyond ridiculous, "Oftentimes people are so distracted with their device that they don't realize there is a police car with lights and sirens trying to pull them over," says a spokesperson for the New York State Police.

    And now, the texting detector



    The police soon may have a new tool in their arsenal when it comes to detecting drivers who can't put their phones down.

    A Virginia company called ComSonics is developing a radar gun-like device that detects the radio frequencies that are emitted from a vehicle when someone is using a cellphone. "Cable repairmen use similar means to find where a cable is damaged by looking for frequencies leaking in a transmission," Malcolm McIntyre of ComSonics told The Virginian-Pilot newspaper.

    The company claims that the gun can tell the difference between a text and a phone call.

    How soon the gun will be in the hands of police officers is anyone's guess. Bret V. Harrison, director of repair services at ComSonics, told Insurance.com that the device is still early in its development process.


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    New York State is a much more serious penalty than what this article talks about, most notably a 5-point hit on your license.
    Last edited by AirMoore; 10-22-2014 at 07:13 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AirMoore View Post
    New York State is a much more serious penalty that what this article talks about, most notably a 5-point hit on your license.

    True, but that is mentioned in the article

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    Quote Originally Posted by curmudgeon View Post
    True, but that is mentioned in the article

    Didn't even see that. Honestly, it's one of the few (only) overbearing laws in NYS that I agree with.

    You know what the funniest (read: worst) part is, I even looked over the whole article, I can't even say TL,DR. I probably shouldn't be allowed to post before 10 AM, on account of still being asleep.
    Last edited by AirMoore; 10-22-2014 at 07:26 AM.

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    Senior Member RedRocket's Avatar
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    I believe all those dark blue "unmarked" SUVs the NYSP use are the ones that are part of the Cuomo's $5M program of add'l enforcement vehicles.

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    IL finally wised up and made it a primary offense, but the initial fines are low at 75/100/125. It does show on your record as well(MVR).

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    NJ is pretty stiff....

    Effective July 1, 2014, the fines for talking or texting on a hand-held wireless communications device will increase. First time offenders will face a fine of at least $200. The fine associated with a second offense will increase to at least $400 and drivers who are caught a third time will face a fine of at least $600, a possible 90-day suspension of their driver's license and will be assessed (3) three motor vehicle penalty points.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedRocket View Post
    I believe all those dark blue "unmarked" SUVs the NYSP use are the ones that are part of the Cuomo's $5M program of add'l enforcement vehicles.
    Those things have been out there for the past 2 & 1/2 years. (You can spot by the DARK window tint). I wouldn't have a problem with them being used for cell/texting enforcement, but they are used for all kinds of other traffic enforcement as well, including window tint violations (the ultimate hypocrisy)

    But, of course, the gov't justifies them for texting enforcement

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    Wow down here In FL, It is a secondary offence, So for those that do not know, You can only get a ticket if you have broken another law, and if i remember the fine is like 35$.... There was a also a big stink about it because the LEOS where NOT stopping people to ticket them while on there cell phone, Reason being, There thoughts, Why bother, Its a 35$ fine and a secondary....it would take to much man power to just write 1 ticket that will only net 35$...
    Oh also NO point on licence...
    I know NY is bad but NJ> when i come up that way i am always talking on the phone, Now when im up near the GSP and the NJTP... I will not answer or touch my phone.. Way to much going on to be taking my eyes off the road....

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