Police officers in states that have laws against texting and driving are tasked with a difficult chore. They must do their best to limit the accidents and injuries associated with distracted driving, yet there's no easy way to tell when drivers are fidgeting with their phones while on the road. That is, until now. If you're in charge of a police department in a no texting while driving state, read on to learn why it's time to submit a request for fund approval to purchase a semi-truck.
Texting While Driving Stats
In 2013, 3,154 people in the United States lost their lives and 424,000 more were injured as the result of distracted driving. Many of these fatalities and injuries stemmed from drivers who are texting or playing with smartphone apps while on the road. Yet, despite the dangers of it and the fact that it is now the leading cause of teen death, plenty of people still use their cellphones while operating a motor vehicle.
Worse yet, those in the smartphone industry are worsening the problem by introducing apps specifically geared to be used while driving. Such apps are often distracting; some even prompt drivers to enter information as they encounter different obstacles on the road.
There is no denying that measures need to be taken to enforce laws that prohibit texting and cellphone use while on the road, and that responsibility lies with you and your department.
How A Semi-Truck Can Help
Fortunately, troopers in Tennessee have come up with an effective and slightly sneaky way to combat the problem of cell phone use on the road -- they drive around in semi-trucks and look for drivers engaged in cellphone activities.
Because the rigs sit so high off the ground, the troopers can see directly into the cabins of standard vehicles with a quick downward glance. If, upon looking in a vehicle, they notice that the driver is texting, checking their email, or playing with an app, the semi-driving officer notifies another squad member who is stationed close-by in a police car. The officer in the police car will then pull the vehicle over and issue a warning or ticket.
The system is effective not only because it allows police officers to finally have a way to clearly see when drivers are using their phones, but also because drivers who are guilty of cellphone use on the road don't get the chance to hide their distracted behavior; they don't expect that the big rig next to them is being driven by somebody who can issue them a ticket.
How Your Department Can Afford A Semi
Of course, putting these efforts into effect can be expensive. It will cost you, on average, $4,200 to train each driver who will be responsible for operating the semi, and those drivers will need to spend an average of 4 to 6 weeks training to drive a big truck. You'll also have the cost of the truck itself, which will vary depending on its age and condition. Fortunately, you won't need any bells or whistles on the truck -- it's only requirement is that it's high enough to peer in vehicles -- so you should be able to find a reasonably priced used rig for as little as $15,000. Contact a professional supplier, such as Arrow Truck Sales, for more information on this topic.
If all of this seems out of your police department's budget, there is some assistance available. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration work together to offer $235 million a year in grants dedicated to boosting safety on the United State's roads. You can find out more about the grant program, including how much your state is eligible to receive by visiting ghsa.org.
If you're in charge of a police department in a state that prohibits cellphone use while driving, consider working a semi-truck into the budget. Distracted driving is a very real problem, and there is funding available to help you crack down on those who endanger lives by using their phone while driving down the road.