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Dysart Willis

Undercover cops out to stop texting and driving

We know that the driving public has a beef against distracted drivers; particularly those who are paying more attention to their phones than to the drivers around them. This feeling is likely directed towards younger drivers who appear to live and die with the next Twitter post or Facebook update. Indeed, the law in North Carolina is that drivers may not create, send or read text messages while operating a motor vehicle.

However, enforcement has been a controversial issue since the law was enacted in 2009. Yes, the state has a vested interest in reducing the number of accidents, and traffic deaths caused by distracted driving, but how could an officer really enforce a law where they may not actually see the driver using his or her phone in a manner that violated the law?

That'€™s where an undercover operation took place.

Essentially, officers from the North Carolina Highway Patrol donned plain clothes and took to state transportation department trucks and rode around the Greensboro area to see how many (and how often) drivers would text while behind the wheel. If they spotted a driver violating the state'€™s ban on texting while driving, they would radio ahead to an officer who would initiate a stop.

The fine for texting and driving is $100, and it is distinguished as a primary offense. This means that an officer does not need a separate offense (e.g., speeding) in order to make a stop and issue a citation.

Will the undercover operation continue? Only time will tell.