Catching Distracted Drivers: New & Novel Techniques from Canada and the US

Distracted driving is now the leading cause of fatal road accidents in Ontario, and across Canada and the US, law enforcement units are employing some creative techniques to catch law-breaking drivers in the act, and discourage the behaviour in general.

  • In BC, the West Vancouver and North Vancouver RCMP hid a spotter disguised as a utility worker in the basket of a cherry picker above and alongside a roadway. Over the course of one afternoon, the operation resulted in 42 tickets being issues for driving while using an electronic device.
  • In Ontario, the Greater Sudbury Police and Transit organizations partnered to place officers on city buses, giving them a perfect look into passing vehicles. This daylong operation resulted in the police issuing 27 tickets for using hand-held devices behind the wheel.
  • In the National Capital Region, Ottawa and Gatineau police teamed up to use a towering Ford F-250 truck as a part of a 1-day blitz. The vantage point from the truck gave officers a good view of drivers hiding cell phones in their laps or out of sight. The blitz resulted in 79 tickets.
  • In Minneapolis, police capture distracted drivers in photo evidence from their position on bikes within traffic and with GoPro cameras in squad cars.
  • In New York, a state senator has published potential legislation that would allow police investigating car accidents to use a “textalyzer” tool to test phones to see if they’d been in use prior to the crash.
  • Also in the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is using Twitter (@NHTSAgov) to “name and shame” people who admit to (or even brag about) texting, tweeting or Snapchatting while driving.

Until the epidemic of distracted driving is eliminated, we’re sure to keep seeing innovative and clever ways to catch and prevent dangerous and illegal driving.