Cops can’t get drivers to put phones down

distracted-driving-cell-phone
Despite laws, warnings, and a general recognition by the public that texting while driving is dangerous, people still do it. Even the rising number of deaths involving distracted drivers hasn’t stemmed the bad habit, according to the Associated Press.

Law enforcement in various parts of the country employs a variety of techniques to detect and ticket drivers using their phones illegally in cars. In Tennessee, state troopers patrol in tractor trailers so they can look down to see the offenders. A Maryland police officer disguised as a homeless person stood at an intersection acting as a spotter — he radioed to other officers down the street who stopped and ticketed texting offenders. In a Boston suburb, a police officer rides around town with a book of $105 tickets that he hands out at stoplights.

The Massachusetts police officer said, “It’s everyone, kids, older people — everyone. When I stop someone, they say, ‘You’re right. I know it’s dangerous, but I heard my phone go off and I had to look at it.'”

According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving overall was a factor in almost 3,200 traffic fatalities in 2014 and nearly 3,500 in 2015 in the mainland U.S. and Puerto Rico. Of those deaths, cell phones were the distracting element in 476 deaths in 2015, up from 406 in 2014.

Enforcement can be an issue in states where some cell phone use is permitted but texting is not. New York legislators wanted to equip police with Textalyzers to check phone activity, but that proposal is still on the table due to objections.

According to the Associate Press, 46 states have laws against texting while driving, although phone calls are okay. Fourteen states bar handheld cellphone use for any purpose.

In the meantime, ticketing keeps rising. In California, texting convictions rose from less than 3,000 in 2,009 to more than 31,000 in 2015. In Massachusetts, tickets handed out for texting while driving increased from about 1,100 in 2011 to more than 6,100 in 2015. In New York, the went from 9,000 in 2011 to almost 85,000 in 2015.

Then there are the people whose carelessness is baffling. “We did see one driver who had two phones going at one time — one in his left hand and one in his right hand, with his wrist on the steering wheel,” said Virginia state trooper Lt. Paul Watts.

And don’t assume you can get away with it at stop lights. “Some people call it the red-light prayer because their heads are bowed and they are looking down at their laps with a nice blue glow coming up in their face,” said California Office of Traffic Safety’s Chris Cochran.

Emerging Tech

Singapore uses its smart city tech to help citizens cut through the red tape

Like many governments, Singapore’s puts citizens through plenty of red tape. But as part of its smart-city initiatives, the government is using tech to remove layers of bureaucracy.
Emerging Tech

Forget police helicopters, California cops are using drones to spot suspects

Police drones deployed by California’s Chula Vista Police Department helped lead to the arrest of 20 suspects over a three-month study. It's a glimpse of the future of drones in law enforcement.
Cars

Model X owner claims confused Autopilot causes crash; Tesla rejects blame

The driver of a Tesla Model X told New Jersey police he veered off the road and crashed after the Autopilot system malfunctioned. He wasn't hurt or charged, but the crossover sustained significant damage. Tesla denies the claims.
Cars

Keep your driving record squeaky clean with these top-flight radar detectors

Nobody likes getting a speeding ticket, but these gadgets can help. Check out our picks for the best radar detectors on the market, from the likes of Valentine One, Escort, and Beltronics.
Mobile

New Apple patent hints clamshell-style foldable phone may be in the works

Apple has filed a patent for a foldable phone that suggests the company could be following in the footsteps of the likes of Samsung and Huawei. The patent describes a clamshell-style foldable phone with two separate sections.
Mobile

Exclusive: Take a look at what a next-generation 5G phone will look like

With 5G phones debuting at MWC in mere days, there is discussion about whether they will be clunky bricks that die after a few hours? A reference design from Qualcomm offerrs a glimpse of the future: This is what 5G phones will look like.
Mobile

Xiaomi Mi 9 will be one of the first phones with monster Snapdragon 855 chip

Xiaomi's next major smartphone release will be the Mi 9, and the company hasn't held back in giving us a good look at the phone, revealing the design, the camera, and a stunning color.
Wearables

Galaxy Watch Active isn't official yet, but you can see it in Samsung's own app

Samsung may be about to resurrect its Sport line of smartwatches under a new name: The Galaxy Watch Sport Active. Leaks and rumors are building our picture of the device at the moment.
Mobile

Stop buying old tablets, says Samsung, buy the new Galaxy Tab S5e instead

Samsung has launched the Galaxy Tab S5e -- the E is for Essential -- a reasonably priced tablet that includes many of the features we like from the Tab A 10.5, and the Tab S4. Here's what you need to know.
Mobile

Bag yourself a bargain with the best budget tablets under $200

The battle for your budget tablet affections is really ramping up. Which tablet, costing less than $200, should be commanding your attention? We take a look at some different options for the budget-conscious.
Computing

What is Wi-Fi 6? Here's a look at the next evolution of the wireless standard

We're exploring the new naming convention for wireless standards, how it affects the devices you buy, and what the upcoming Wi-Fi generation is changing for the better.
Home Theater

Samsung accidentally leaks its new Galaxy Buds ahead of launch

It's been all but certain that Samsung would launch a successor to its Gear IconX wireless earbuds soon, but a newly leaked photo and recent FCC certification document seems to indicate that the debut is very close.
Wearables

Focals succeed where Google Glass fumbled (but do we really need smartglasses?)

It’s been seven years since Google took the wraps off Google Glass. Now, we’re finally getting a modern-day equivalent we want to wear. North’s Focals combine subtle style with an intuitive interface to craft smartglasses you’ll…
Home Theater

Hi-res streaming audio service Qobuz arrives in U.S., threatens Tidal’s monopoly

For several years, Tidal enjoyed a monopoly on hi-res music streaming in the U.S. Now, French company Qobuz is here to offer some competition with a variety of monthly plans starting at $10 a month.