On September 18th, the New Hampshire State Police announced on Facebook that they will be teaming up with a local trucking company over the next week to catch people who text and drive. The post implies that officers will be sitting in the cab of the trucks spying on drivers who may be driving while distracted. Using a cellphone, laptop, or other distracting device can be quite dangerous, so this program would seemingly protect many granite state travelers during the final week of September, which police say is the most dangerous time of the year. What may have the greatest impact on the culture of driving safety is how the righteous law enforcement officers of New Hampshire will lead by example, though.
Along with the pictures of the troopers standing next to the Ross Express trucks that they plan to team up with was the text “Next week, beginning 9/21, there will be high-visibility enforcement focused on distracted driving. Remember, U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”
Law enforcement officers in other states have used similar programs to catch distracted drivers, including the use of school buses by Seymour Police in Indiana. Indiana Police actually began using school buses to catch distracted drivers in 2010. It is unclear whether ‘high-visibility’ means that the trucks will be clearly labeled as police trucks during the patrols.
While we cannot know for sure, it seems that nearly every local and state police vehicle in New Hampshire is equipped with a vehicle-mounted laptop (also referred to as an MDT) which is generally used by the driver, often while in motion. Law enforcement officers have also been known to use their personal phones for phone calls, texting, and other activities while driving. I have personally witnessed cops doing all three of those things at the same time while driving. We can glean from this announcement and from the fact that law enforcement officers are not hypocrites, liars, or reckless drivers that they will lead by example – as opposed to chasing down, pulling over, and punishing drivers for doing the same things that they do with impunity. As such, we are happy to be the first publication to report with 99% confidence that beginning September 21st, all law enforcement officers in New Hampshire will be disabling and/or removing their MDTs, work phones, personal phones, and other potential distractions from their vehicles. We are proud of our brave and righteous law enforcement!
Texting and driving is extremely dangerous, but few people would dispute that riding motorcycles on roads and highways is the easiest way to get killed or severely injured. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), in 2014, motorcycle riders were as much as 27 times more likely than “passenger car occupants” to die in a crash “per vehicle mile traveled.” They were also nearly five times likelier to be injured, per the report’s findings. In EMS, many providers refer to motorcycles as ‘donor-cycles’, because when they are involved in accidents, well……paramedics just hope that the rider was an organ donor so that at least their death could help another patient in need.
Currently, New Hampshire state police and some local police use motorcycles in the course of their regular duties. As with the super-distracted driving behaviors that we can safely assume will be ended by police departments, we can report with 99% confidence that our responsible leaders in law enforcement will be leading by example by taking all of their motorcycles out of service.
As we approach the second legislative session of the term, we can only hope that pro-safety legislators propose bills to codify these new law enforcement policies into law. We know that officers and chiefs would support such bills.
To our great law enforcement officers: Thank you so much for leading by example!
Stay safe out there!