Distracted Driving Police Cracking Down on Distracted Driving Citizens
Distracted driving is a problem. I've been part of the problem. You likely have been distracted as well. Virtually everyone with a drivers license has been part of the problem. So when I opened the Argus Leader this morning and saw that our police have distracted driving "in the crosshairs" I was instantly annoyed.
Last night while driving home from my daughter's softball practice, we passed an oncoming Sioux Falls police car. The officer driving never saw us or our truck. They were staring down at the laptop in their car the entire two-plus seconds we passed them.
Just enough time for an accident to occur.
I am not trying to pick on cops with this. I hold them in the same high regard as soldiers. They have a very tough job and face crushing scrutiny, sometimes unfairly. They are risking their lives every day and most people do nothing but bitch about cops.
I applaud the crack down on distracted driving. It is out of control and no one gets it. I also know that the police are exempted from the texting and driving ban so long as it is job related. That doesn't make looking at a computer screen while driving any less safe.
I'm really trying to not exaggerate when I say that at least one-fourth of the occasions I passed a moving police car the officer's head does not move from the position of looking at the screen. Officers need information when going to a call and I know they aren't just playing words with friends.
One listener sent in this text this morning in response to our discussion of it:
Police response time could be tripled if they had to pull over every time they needed updates. Also.... if they were responding to a domestic dispute they require information as it is coming in. If they got there and then waited outside to read the updates caller provided as well as additional procedure instructions - ie: weapon now present, child has entered situation, neighbor responded, suspect threatening violence, suspect locked door etc... this changes speed, sirens, weapon ready position, response procedure etc. I suggest a ride along. It's pretty crazy what people do not know.
I don't question anything they just said. But what about when they aren't responding to an emergency? The police cruiser I encountered last night was going the speed limit, not in a hurry. Response time isn't an issue there.
Also, I'm not making this up or just a randomly complaining. There are several instances where distracted officers have been in accidents and injured or killed people. To say operating a computer while driving a police car isn't dangerous would be false. If it's necessary then another solution needs to be found, whether that be encrypted radios (an idea I don't love) or another officer to ride along and be the computer operator. This is an unnecessary safety risk to the public.
By the way, I don't even care about the hypocrisy of distracted driving cops writing distracted driving tickets, I just want them to be driving safely.