Utah Highway Patrol experimenting with method to catch distracted drivers

Saturday , July 15, 2017 - 11:33 AM1 comment

ANNE CHRISTNOVICH, Standard-Examiner Staff

Attentive drivers might notice more big, black passenger vans on Utah roads, but for those staring at phone screens behind the wheel, they might not make the connection between driving near one and getting pulled over.

Drivers might notice more big, black passenger vans on Utah roads.

Well, attentive drivers might. For those texting and driving, they might not make the connection between a black van sighting and getting pulled over by Utah Highway Patrol for distracted driving.

An experiment launched last month puts troopers in the vans, who are on the lookout for the tell-tale swivel of drivers staring at a screen, according to a report from the Salt Lake Tribune. The patrolmen in the van alert troopers in marked vehicles up the highway, so they can decide whether to make a traffic stop. 

Troopers participating in the program are mainly cruising Interstate 15.

“We are going to have roughly 10 troopers in marked patrol cars in close proximity to the van,” Lt. Beau Mason of Utah Highway Patrol told a reporter with Fox 13. “The van will be driving, identifying these drivers and calling it out to the troopers, and they will be conducting the traffic stops in any way they see fit.” (Read the full story.)

UHP told Fox 13 troopers tend to see the most distracted driving during rush hours, perhaps because speeds are slower and drivers feel more comfortable sneaking in a text or checking Facebook. 

Utah’s Department of Public Safety reports 108 fatal crashes between 2012-2016 due to distracted driving. 

What do you think? Is the program a good use of UHP’s time and resources? What else should be done to stop distracted driving? Comment below. 

Sign up for e-mail news updates.