Texting while driving in the US is not just a dangerous habit, but also an infuriatingly widespread one, practiced both brazenly and surreptitiously by so many motorists that police are being forced to get creative — and still can’t seem to make much headway.
“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,’” said West Bridgewater Officer Matthew Monteiro.
A global epidemic of distracted drivers
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates nearly 3,500 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers in the mainland US and Puerto Rico in 2015, up from almost 3,200 in 2014. The number of deaths in which cellphones were the distraction rose from 406 in 2014 to 476 in 2015.
But many safety advocates say crashes involving cellphones are vastly underreported because police are forced to rely on what they are told by drivers, many of whom aren’t going to admit they were using their phones. …
The red-light prayer:
Everywhere they look, police see drivers staring at their phones behind the wheel.
Drivers have also become sneakier. Instead of resting their phones against the steering wheel, they hold them down low to make it more difficult for police to see what’s going on.
“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 Chris Cochran, a spokesman for the California Office of Traffic Safety.