People on the road in Montgomery County, Maryland may have recently spotted a disheveled man wearing shabby attire, holding up a cardboard sign and standing on the roadside. This may sound like any homeless man in any city… which is exactly the point! His appearance was meant to be deceptive, because this man isn’t truly homeless.
This police officer in disguise was watching on the side of the road to catch texting and driving offenders in the act. If he noticed a person behind the wheel with a phone in their face, he issued a ticket by notifying uniformed policeman further along via radio. These officers would then pull over and tickets to the culprits. His cardboard sign clearly indicated to all that he was a police officer, but apparently many people didn’t read that little clue. A first-time offense for texting and driving is a hefty $83, a price that most people probably aren’t too happy to pay, and reports said that well over twenty people were caught in the “texting trap”.
But really, $83 is actually a pretty cheap price to pay when it might have saved someone from getting injured or worse, because of the behaviors of a driver texting at the wheel and not giving their full attention to the road ahead. Nine plus individuals die every day due to the behaviors of distracted drivers and close to 1,200 individuals sustain injuries each day in auto accidents that have something to do with distracted drivers. Susan Yum was the mother of a five year-old boy who was killed by a distracted driver. The driver crashed into her SUV while the driver was texting.
The Montgomery County Police Department echoes Yum’s thoughts about distracted driving. Their goal with the “faux homeless man” was to discourage people from participating in distracted driving. Area drivers, however, all have conflicting views on this attempt by the police department. Several individuals are not happy about the fact that this mission is stopping police officers from focusing on other problems that are just as urgent. One commenter on social media complained that this distracted driving effort was stopping police officers from taking care of other extremely serious issues in the community, notably burglaries, carjackings, robberies, kidnappings, murders, physical assaults and sexual assaults. Another concerned citizen was annoyed because she thought that the police were being hypocrites regarding the matter. She believes that they frequently text and drive themselves, and that they participate in traffic violations in general all of the time. Yet another person claimed (falsely) the police were engaging in entrapment. She also noted that she believes that the police are using the community’s tax money carelessly.
A handful of people are even discussing anecdotes about how distracted driving has influenced their own lives. Although people may all have differing opinions regarding the police department’s approach to tackling distracted driving, it’s safe to say that the motive is pure. Distracted driving is dangerous and should by all means be tapered off.