BROOKLINE (CBS) — Brookline Police are cracking down on distracted drivers in a program that uses plainclothes officers to nab motorists on their phones.

They look like regular Boston sports fans, wearing Patriots and Bruins gear, but these officers are spotting drivers who are breaking the law.

“What we’re looking for is people who are distracted while they’re driving, and were trying to educate them,” said Brookline Police Sgt. Robert Disario.

After these undercover officers spot a distracted driver, uniformed officers arrive to make contact.

The pamphlet handed out by Brookline Police to educate drivers about distracted driving. (WBZ-TV)

“We’re giving them a copy of the law and issuing them a written warning,” said Lt. Philip Harrington of the department’s Community Service Division.

“We’re not trying to write fines for the sake of writing fines,” says Sgt. Disario. “Our end goal is to reduce traffic crashes and reduce the amount of distracted driving.”

Sgt. Disario said he often sees drivers on Facebook or Instagram as well as texting, and reminds them that those count, too.

“The biggest one I’ve seen is email,” he said. “A lot of people think that if they scroll through their email and they delete messages, that’s not a violation. It is in fact a violation … Even speech to text is something that people are doing now. You’re still composing a message. You’re distracted, and that’s a violation.”

Officers write warnings for drivers caught using their devices while driving. (WBZ-TV)

Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road when you’re texting, and in that time, you’re usually looking up and down. Officers say that is exactly what they look for.

One of the drivers pulled over was Viral Kansara, who said he had no idea the person who caught her was a plainclothes police officer.

“It was a little scary and eye opening I guess,” he said. “I was caught by surprise, but I hope this will make a difference.”

Brookline Police said they pulled over nearly 70 drivers during a three-day span of the operation, and said they’ll continue the program through September.

  1. Most are familiar with accidents/crashes that occur with teens and their driving. However, there is also an issue with company/fleet vehicles. These vehicles spend more time on the road than personal vehicles. Because the driver is on the clock and working, they will try to “multi-task” and do work other than driving when they are behind the wheel. Emails, phone calls, using apps and texting are often part of a drivers’ workload.

    While you may seek to lower distracted driving by increasing penalties, fees and regulations, there is another option. AT&T “It Can Wait” campaign is an advocacy effort to diminish distracted driving. They have an anti-texting app to be downloaded onto your smartphones. The app is called AT&T DriveMode. They make it available to all drivers for FREE!

    One area that is rarely discussed is that Massachusetts has hundreds of State vehicles that inspectors, regulators and the agricultural department use as fleet vehicles, but they do not have the technology to diminish distracted driving. I would love to see Massachusetts lead by example and use a program, like FleetMode, to block texts, redirect incoming phone calls, and impede all other apps in the State vehicles. If we want our state roads to be safer, let’s start by making our state vehicles safer.

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