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NY Police Get Tall SUVs To Combat Texting While Driving 319

Posted by Soulskill
from the tall-vehicle-short-temper dept.
coondoggie writes "The New York State Police have a new weapon to fight the plague of drivers that insist on texting while operating their vehicle: tall SUVs. Most recently reported by the AP, NY has begun operating a fleet of 32 unmarked SUVs that let troopers more easily peer down into a car to see if the driver is texting or not. 'Major Michael Kopy, commander of the state police troop patrolling the corridor between New York City and Albany, quoted a Virginia Tech study that found texting while driving increased the chance of a collision by 23 times and took eyes off the road for five seconds — more than the length of a football field at highway speed. Kopy worries that as teens get their driver's licenses, texting on the road will become more prevalent. "More people are coming of driving age who have had these hand-held devices for many years, and now as they start to drive, they're putting the two together, texting and driving, when they shouldn't."'"
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NY Police Get Tall SUVs To Combat Texting While Driving

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  • Distracted driving (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @01:06AM (#45535113)

    And how far does an SUV travel while the driver tries to see whether a person in another car is texting?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @01:08AM (#45535117)

      No, no, no. These are "trained professsionals", so your argument is irrelevant!

      • by NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @01:32AM (#45535251)
        speed and tailgate even when their lights aren't on. Because they're trained professionals. (Yes, I'm being sarcastic.)
        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @01:45AM (#45535311)

          When making a reply, the first box is for the subject and not the first half of your message.

          I know this is probably very surprising and upsetting, but you have to trust me on this.

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          Most cops can barely drive, and then when off duty they drive like complete and utter assholes.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Shakrai (717556) *

      And how far does an SUV travel while the driver tries to see whether a person in another car is texting?

      About as far as an ambulance drives, while the driver radios ahead to the hospital, simultaneously remaining in communication with his partner, who is busy attending to the patient they picked up from the automobile accident caused by distracted driving.

      • A good driver can reach for the radio without taking his eyes off the road. In most rigs however, the EMT or Medic in the back will actually call the hospital to give the report.
    • by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @02:36AM (#45535511)

      You are assuming the driver will be checking other cars. The shot gun rider would be in a much better angle to check the neighboring car, and could very well be the only person that can check cars for texting drivers.

    • You can see people texting left and right when driving, a hell of a lot ticker than it takes a person to read or respond to a text.

  • by xtal (49134) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @01:10AM (#45535127) Homepage

    Stilts.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stilts [wikipedia.org] :)

  • I don't suppose there's any chance that the cost of the police buying this with taxpayer money will be made up with reduced collisions, accidents, injuries/fatalities, etc.? My knee-jerk reaction would be that it will not, and they're probably just using it as an excuse to get some new fancy cars. 32 new cars pulling people over at times a regular police cruiser would not, just for texting while driving, doesn't seem like it's going to make huge changes in driver behavior... or any changes at all.
    • by ArchieBunker (132337) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @01:29AM (#45535239) Homepage

      Its about sending a message. I am completely competent in my driving abilities. That said, I do not want to die in a collision because some self absorbed cunt insists on texting while driving. Same goes for drunk drivers. Drunks rarely kill themselves when they wreck.

      • But will that message be even remotely effective? Because if not, it's just a waste of money. Obviously I don't know for sure and haven't done an analysis, and am giving them a huge benefit of the doubt by assuming it even might be. My experience is that most people have great difficulty altering daily behavior habits, assuming they even care enough to try, because of abstract risks to themselves (fines) or others (wrecks). Even if they did, it's hard to imagine 32 cars doing this would really send that mes
        • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @02:08AM (#45535393)

          My experience is that most people have great difficulty altering daily behavior habits

          Counter-example: Seat belt use went from about 11% in 1981, when the first mandatory seat belt laws took effect, to about 75% today.

          • by Foo2rama (755806)
            why would you not wear a seatbelt? That just seems stupid... What is the downside of wearing one.
            • by Joce640k (829181)

              Why would you be typing on a little virtual keyboard and looking at a screen when driving? That just seems stupid. What is the downside to waiting five minutes .

            • why would you text whilst driving? That just seems stupid...
            • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

              by C0R1D4N (970153)
              I don't at work, my job has me in and out of he vehicle every couple minutes. As to the texting while driving being so dangerous, the accident rate has not increased in alignment with the massive increase of cell phone use the past 15 years.
          • And seatbelt laws are as Liberty infringing today as they were back then.
            • by mrvan (973822) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @10:45AM (#45537977)

              I would be fine with you not wearing a seat belt, as long as it does not affect me when you get into an accident, including:
              - my health insurance premium does not go up because you pose a greater risk of requiring treatment (if your answer is: differentiate premiums between seat belt wearers and libertarians, how do you monitor that differentiating without an even greater breach of your Liberties?)
              - my taxes don't go up because you are now a burden on the emergency medical care system
              - the road is not closed off longer because the accident is now more serious, leading to more traffic jams.
              - if an accident is my fault, my punishment does not go up because you are now dead/seriously injured instead of not/lightly injured
              - the police and medical staff are still available to help me and not wasting their time on the greater time required to investigate/treat a serious or fatal accident compared to a fender bender. If your answer is: hire more police and medical staff, than realize that this will drive up the cost of said staff by more demand. If your answer is: train more staff to increase supply, this will cost taxpayer money since those institutions are generally subsidized, and/or take potential candidates from other fields where they would actually add value to society rather than scrape your libertarian remains off the tarmac.

              In other words, your decision to not wear a seat belt places a claim on a number of scarce goods if you get into an accident, which affects more people than just you.

              • In other words, the world can have liberty so long as it doesn't inconvenience you by virtue of a number of factors no individual has any control over.

                When I put it like that, can you see how insane your ideology sounds? Hell, you might as well be arguing against free speech, since the wrong person saying the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time can run afoul of all the criteria you've set forth here.

          • correlation != causation.

            Yes, this goes for the person you're replying to as well.

            LOTS of things have happened since 1981 that would lead to more seatbelt use/less car crash fatalities. Education, better equipment, cars that ding at you constantly until you belt up...

            Actually, were I a betting man, my money'd be on that last one as the most likely cause.

      • by FatLittleMonkey (1341387) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @03:15AM (#45535657)

        Its about sending a message

        Isn't that what got us into this mess?

      • I am completely competent in my driving abilities.

        That could be a dangerous line of thinking.

    • by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @02:53AM (#45535573)

      I don't suppose there's any chance that the cost of the police buying this with taxpayer money will be made up with reduced collisions, accidents, injuries/fatalities, etc.? My knee-jerk reaction would be that it will not, and they're probably just using it as an excuse to get some new fancy cars. 32 new cars pulling people over at times a regular police cruiser would not, just for texting while driving, doesn't seem like it's going to make huge changes in driver behavior... or any changes at all.

      The thing about knee-jerk reactions is that they're normally wrong.

      Texting whilst driving is one of the worst things you can do on the roads and having driven in the US, most drivers are barely competent to begin with. If we took 100 experienced US drivers and gave them a Western Australian driving test, I'd be surprised if 2 passed. The WA test hinges on vehicle control, looking and signalling, three skills that US motorists seem to lack in spades. If we made them take the test in a manual, I'd be surprised if 1 passed (I passed in a manual, flow gets a lot harder when you've got to understand how gears work).

      You're right that it is driver behaviour that needs to change, ultimately fines dont cut it in this regard. People who text and drive are dangerous (doubly so if you're naive enough to think you're capable of doing it safely, Dunning-Kruger in effect) and not just to themselves but to others. Repeated tests have shown that texting whilst driving has a very negative affect of driving abilities. Unfortunately sometimes the only way to get though to people is to take their phones and cars away, so unless suspensions are issued, people will keep writing this off under the old revenue conspiracy theory and as you pointed out, refuse to change habits.

      Really, its not a question of if new vehicles will be effective, rather its a question of whether the punishments are effective and from what I saw driving in the US no-one seems to care about the punishments for anything.

      • by Ihlosi (895663)
        Texting whilst driving is one of the worst things you can do on the roads

        You haven't seen people watch a movie, play Angry Birds, ear a bowl of soup or make coffee while driving?

        If we took 100 experienced US drivers and gave them a Western Australian driving test, I'd be surprised if 2 passed.

        Indeed. They'd probably be driving on the wrong side of the road in the first place.

      • by Skater (41976) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @09:18AM (#45537083) Homepage Journal

        People who text and drive are dangerous (doubly so if you're naive enough to think you're capable of doing it safely, Dunning-Kruger in effect) and not just to themselves but to others. Repeated tests have shown that texting whilst driving has a very negative affect of driving abilities. Unfortunately sometimes the only way to get though to people is to take their phones and cars away, so unless suspensions are issued, people will keep writing this off under the old revenue conspiracy theory and as you pointed out, refuse to change habits.

        It's not even the texting that makes them dangerous. What makes them dangerous is that they think it's okay to have their attention focused elsewhere while they continue maneuvering several thousand pounds of machinery. The text messaging is just the latest example, but there have always been examples of people reading, putting on makeup, eating, playing with the radio, talking on the phone, etc. People just don't understand, or care, that driving IS the activity you're doing. In a logical world, these people would be the biggest supporters of public transportation, so they can do those things without risk.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I'd go further, the only time the extra foot or so of height is going to let you see someone texting is when waiting at lights, stuck in traffic, or travelling side-by-side on multi-laned straight roads in smooth uniform traffic.

      Only the latter situation is actually remotely dangerous to glance down at a phone (in case someone ahead emergency brakes), but still about the least dangerous of all possible traffic conditions. So even if it makes a difference, you may end up training people to only avoid using t

  • More truck means slower pursuit and longer interdiction times, but just think of how many doughnuts a Yukon with a lift kit will haul! no more embarassing loading-u-haul-in-the-crispy-creme-parking-lot for NY cops.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @01:20AM (#45535195)

    How about instead of deploying a gas guzzling waste of taxpayer money, they mount a video camera to the left and right on their roof and wire it into their existing displays?

  • Slashdot, where you get the same news as Theregister, but a week later.

  • by NIK282000 (737852) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @01:29AM (#45535241) Homepage Journal

    Kopy worries that as teens get their driver's licenses, texting on the road will become more prevalent

     
    Age has nothing to do with it, there aren't many teenagers plowing their SUVs into other cars on the highways during rush hour (more like 4 hour crawl). Its the 9 to 5 cube jockies and wage slaves who are bored to hell with sitting in traffic for cumulative days of their lives. Teenagers are disruptive hellians but you can't blame them for a problem that existed before they were even eligable to contribute.

    • Re:Blame the kids (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kaenneth (82978) on Wednesday November 27, 2013 @01:38AM (#45535285) Homepage Journal

      A 63 year old friend of mine got a smartphone to take payments with for his business...

      less than a week later he rear-ended someone on the freeway while texting.

      any age can be a fucking dumbass.

    • Parent makes total sense.

      Why not pass a regulation on phones -- they have bluetooth, it's not like they couldn't make them disable when a certain device is present... that goes into the car. Failure to use the device would be easier to detect.

      Nobody has any legitimate reason to receive texts while in traffic outside of EMT people. Or at least, there is ZERO reason for anybody to be able to send anything. Pagers are old-- they never caused troubles.

      Not being able to use the phone everywhere is not a communis

      • by Shakrai (717556) *

        Why not pass a regulation on phones -- they have bluetooth, it's not like they couldn't make them disable when a certain device is present... that goes into the car. Failure to use the device would be easier to detect.

        Three problems with that:

        1) Why can't passengers text?
        2) What stops me from removing the enforcement code from my open-source smart phone?
        3) Prior restraint is generally frowned upon in the American legal system. We could probably cut down on DWIs by putting ignition interlocks in all automobiles, rather than just those owned by people with DWI convictions, but that wouldn't fly from a cost benefit or civil libertarian standpoint....

      • Why not pass a regulation on phones -- they have bluetooth, it's not like they couldn't make them disable when a certain device is present... that goes into the car. Failure to use the device would be easier to detect.

        How about just making it "negligent driving" if you have an accident when using a phone? So if you kill someone in an accident, it's negligent homicide. And you are 100% responsible for costs/damages in non-fatal accidents, even if you would otherwise have right of way if you weren't using your phone.

        Why not punish the people who actually cause accidents?

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Belial6 (794905)
          Just as long as the same applies to anyone with a passenger in the car. Or using a radio.
        • by dave420 (699308)
          So people who think "oh, I'm awesome at driving, so I can use my phone without fear" will not kill someone when their actually-not-awesome driving skills smash their car into someone.
    • It's the 9 to 5 cube jockeys and wage slaves who are bored to hell with sitting in traffic for cumulative days of their lives.

      So the law should instead be encouraging people who live more than X distance from work to be using mass transit? Sounds good to me!

  • 32 tall, unmarked SUVs to better peer down at drivers' hands,

    Need I say more?p. Good thing you need to be 18 to get a driving license, or else those cops might get them into hot waters themselves...

  • .... if you're so oblivious that you don't even notice the large SUV in the next lane, with driver staring intently at you, you deserve the bloody ticket. Police cruisers, even unmarked ones, have all manner of features that scream "COP", but of course you'd have to be paying attention to actually notice them....

    Maybe they'll shift enforcement resources to texting and leave us open-highway speeders alone. I'll take 80 with both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road over 45 with both hands on the phone,

  • It won't take long to notice that a grossly disproportionate number of cute girls in short skirts are either warned or ticketed.

    • by locopuyo (1433631)
      I have heard New Yorkers drive differently, but I think it would be girls in low cut shirts,
  • Oh look, a hugely significant percentage of humans in a given environment want to do something. It comes with an added danger. Let's prohibit them from doing it! Because that works. It's always worked in the past, with everything from alcohol to abstinance.

    Or, we can do what actually works. We can train people to do it well enough to lower that risk of danger.

    Make it a part of the drivers' test. Make it just another mark on the drivers' licence -- same as glasses, motorcycles, and transport trucks. I

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      Sure. We can teach them to drive drunk as well....

    • Oh look, a hugely significant percentage of humans in a given environment want to do something. It comes with an added danger. Let's prohibit them from doing it! Because that works. It's always worked in the past, with everything from alcohol to abstinance.

      I'm not sure what "added danger" comes with abstinence, but to my knowledge prohibiting abstinence has never been tried; if it were, I believe it would actually be fairly successful.

  • Pity it is not me selling them the SUVs.... Seems a half baked excuse to spend more money. Hypothetically speaking, some friend will make a huge deal selling them luxury cars, someone will get a fat cut, and at the end of their life/leasing?? who will keep the cars? It is an injustice to spend the tax payers money on a time they say budgets are being cut. And no, I don't want police looking at people texting, but at robbers and people driving either insanely fast, too slow, or in the wrong lane. Or parked i
  • The cops have nothing better to do with their time? They have so many funds that they can buy special vehicles just to enforce this one traffic law?

  • I admit to only having visited New York for five days almost a decade ago, but the very clear impression that I got was that "highway speed" was unlikely to be achieved anywhere in New York at any time by any driver whatsoever.

  • "Sexting While Driving" ... got my hopes up. After that the actual story was a bitter disappointment.

  • Gotta love the world we are creating.

  • those caught texting while driving are dragged out of their vehicles and summarily executed at the roadside and left there with a warning to others sign...

    Kidding, but they'll only start behaving when their personal risk is high...

    It doesn't help that Hollywood still has people using hand held units while driving and they don't show the consequences (ie that driver having a crash)

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      It doesn't help that Hollywood still has people using hand held units while driving and they don't show the consequences (ie that driver having a crash)

      It doesn't help that everyone thinks they're a fucking moviestar, and more, that their movie is an action movie. Some people need to realize that they are starring as the relief in a comedy, before they turn their movie into a tragedy.

  • The real advantage will be the perspective on women's cleavage. Also look for them spending a lot of time around sports cars with women in them.
    Some women have to move skirt to use a manual tranmission. Perspective on that will be maintained.

  • I've always wondered - I don't have one of those sprout-things sticking out of my dash, and (on this car) there really isn't a handy ledge to lay it on, so when I'm using the navigation feature on my phone, I'm holding it upright in my hand, listening to it's directions.
    I often just drop it (then have to drive incautiously as I later retrieve it) when a police officer is nearby, as I don't want him to think I'm texting and driving.

    I just wonder, while there are plenty of people who DO text and drive, I'd im

  • If texting while driving is as dangerous as people indicate, wouldn't a reckless driving charge be more appropriate? Individuals under 21 should be charged with reckless driving if an officer catches them with a communications device in their hand while driving.

    • If texting while driving is as dangerous as people indicate, wouldn't a reckless driving charge be more appropriate? Individuals under 21 should be charged with reckless driving if an officer catches them with a communications device in their hand while driving.

      Only if they are, in fact, driving recklessly. Let's face it, there are many ways to get distracted while driving and cause an accident. I really don't like the focus on this one specific activity. It should be about sanctioning people that actually cause a problem. This focus on texting as the distracting activity (justified as a prevention effort) is more like pre-crime.

  • Why taller SUV?. It would be easier to mount cameras on the passenger side of existing patrol cars near the roof line peering down. If necessary add small extension pole, heck, you could even make it retractable. That would be far cheaper, and have a recording of the "texting while driving motorist" to be used as evidence.
  • Okay, it's a bad idea, causes accidents, and the state is combating it. I never text and drive, and I get the justification for trying to stop it.

    But ... what about Ingress? Can I still play Ingress and drive? I'm not texting anything, dammit!

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