The New York Times: The pileup of grim fatality data about the risks of distracted driving has prompted New York state to assign highway troopers to a special fleet of 32 CITE vehicles, for Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement, designed to catch cellphone texters as they tap away. These are nondescript gray SUVs that ride higher than normal so officers can peer down into vehicles moving suspiciously in the hands (or nonhands) of drivers eyeing and manipulating their electronic-message devices.
In the first two months of the program over the summer, troopers wrote 5,553 tickets for texting, pulling over surprised drivers with police flashers and a siren’s call. The tally was more than five times the comparable period last year, providing fresh documentation of an alarming problem that federal safety officials estimate finds 660,000 drivers blithely texting away in their cars at any moment during daylight hours across the nation.
Distracted driving killed more than 3,000 people last year and injured 421,000 in crashes, according to federal highway studies. New York’s anti-texting squad, one of the first to take to the roads, is an encouraging development as threats to life and limb escalate along with the technology industry’s glittery invitations to 24/7 conversation.