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Law Enforcement Implement Unique Method to Catch Distracted Drivers

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A KLEW News special report of a new kind of crackdown where police hide in plain sight. Alex Crescenti shows us how Moscow Police officers are finding distracted drivers.

Up on the Palouse local agencies are teaming up once again to stop distracted driving and as you are about to see it doesn’t take long to catch people on their mobile devices while the vehicle is in motion. In fact, it doesn’t take long for officers to find regular violations that may not seem like that big of a deal.

Last August we rode along on a school bus to take part in a law enforcement emphasis that had never been done before in the area; to crack down on one issue, distracted driving. And now, we get to ride along again. This time in SUV’s with a slightly different twist.

Jay Waters, Moscow Police said, “We got the two unmarked SUV's on the roadways that have the troopers following them and then we have the MPD bike officers on campus with the MPD cars assisting them.”

The goal here is same as the 2016 patrol, catch distracted drivers.

Waters said, “Once we get a texter you know we'll call it out and you'll call one of the cars that is hopefully following us and then they can scoot up and then pull the car over.”

Just like the yellow school buses, these SUV’s give officers a high vantage point to see what drivers are exactly doing.

“You know a lot of people that are texting, they keep it below the windowsill line and down in their lap or on their thigh or down by their knee.”

Once the patrol gets going it isn’t long before we see one ISP patrolman have someone pulled over, but just a few minutes later on the Pullman Road we have our first catch of the day. And after a few minutes a state patrol is there to pull him over. Then if you can believe it, just moments later we see another person on their phone in the exact same place.

For the second half of the emphasis I ride with Moscow Police Officer Eric Warner. His role during the emphasis was to patrol the University of Idaho campus. He along with the bike cops make sure no violations take place, but none the less a few minutes after getting in the car Officer Warner pulls over a driver.

Officer Warner said, “He had his phone up and he was manipulating his phone.”

While many people think they can use their phone just fine while driving, Warner says otherwise.

Officer Warner said, “Every time you're manipulating your phone you're not paying attention to the road even if you're dialing your phone.”

On the other hand, he does say these emphases’ do help keep the roads safer.

Officer Warner said, “With everyone being out in mass, it seems to bring a lot more awareness to the drivers,”

The emphasis seemed to drive results. During the three-day patrol, officers made 276 stops and issued 91 citations. A fourth of those citations were for texting and another were for seatbelt violations as well as others like proof of insurance and failing to stop at stop signs.

While I was riding along with Officer Warner he made around a dozen stops alone in the first few hours of the emphasis. It just goes to show, always make sure you follow the rules of the road because you don’t know who is watching.

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