Because it’s too hard to see if drivers are texting with their smartphones in their laps while behind the wheel, a federal grant will help place cops on overpasses and high perches to try and spot the illegal activity from above.
On October 16, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that Massachusetts was one of two states—along with Connecticut—to receive $275,000 to “establish best practices for enforcement programs aimed at curbing texting and driving.”
According to the National Highway Department, the money will be used to help the Bay State plan and conduct high-visibility anti-texting enforcement programs along the roadways.
The large grant will also go towards training police officers to spot drivers who are texting behind the wheel from different places besides the road.
The NHTSA said police will be using “anti-texting enforcement protocols and techniques such as…stationary patrols, spotters on overpasses on elevated roadways and roving patrols,” to stop offenders from sending messages while navigating the streets.
The new testing measures will take place over the course of 2-years, officials said.
“While it is relatively easier for law enforcement to determine illegal handheld cell phone use by observing the position of the phone at the driver’s ear, the dangerous practice of texting while driving is often not as obvious,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “These two new demonstration programs will help identify real-world protocols and practices to better detect if a person is texting while driving.”
Currently, 39 states have laws on the books that specifically ban texting and 10 states have laws that prohibit the use of handheld cell phones while driving.
“We have come a long way in our fight against distracted driving, but there is still much work to be done,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Texting behind the wheel is especially dangerous, which is why we’re working with states like Connecticut and Massachusetts to address this important safety issue.”