West Bridgewater police conducted the crackdown by stationing two officers in unmarked vehicles 100 yards apart on each side of Route 106. The officers watched for texting drivers, making double-confirmation before radioing officers in marked cruisers who pulled them over.
Most admitted to using their phone for illegal purposes, and received $100 citations. One woman corrected the officer who pulled her over, saying she was not texting, but scanning Facebook.
Forty-eight percent of the texting drivers were between 16 and 25. None were over 40, said Flaherty. Sixty-four percent of the drivers were male.
Even in Brookline, known as one of the state’s most aggressive cities when it comes to ticketing texters, police Captain Michael Gropman said it is usually possible to catch drivers in violation of the law only when they are driving slowly.
“It’s easier to catch somebody at a stoplight or in heavy traffic than it is driving the roadway at 45 miles an hour,” said Gropman. Brookline, he added, has also been plagued by increasing numbers of rear-end collisions.
A. Wayne Sampson, executive director of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, said West Bridgewater and Brookline are not the only law enforcement agencies puzzling over how to enforce the law. Even if an officer believes he or she saw a driver texting, they may decide not to pursue issuing a citation because drivers can simply say they were dialing a number, rather than texting. Drivers are not required to hand over their phones when they are pulled over by police, so there is no way an officer can immediately know if the driver is telling the truth.
Martine Powers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.