From David Nolan

North East

All any citizen has to do is look around from their vehicle any given day and observe how many people are on their handheld phones while driving. Earlier this year, I wrote to Sheriff Adams and received a response that maybe they would do a public service/education program on this. He also had the traffic supervisor Cpl. Shockey provide some statistics. There were about 20,069 total charges listed. During the year there were roughly 180 traffic offenses related to using handheld cell phones while driving, to include youth driving and even commercial transportation vehicles.

This seems an appallingly low amount given our Sheriff departments’ size and the amount of traffic we have on the roads. It amounts to less than one cell phone violation stop every two days. I sorted out the tickets as to who got tickets and who got warnings. There were about 42 tickets issued and the rest of the 138 offenses resulted in a warning. That’s less than one ticket a week, virtually non-enforcement.

The amount of death and destruction due to accidents on the roads in this county is reaching an unacceptable high. I believe many of these are due to distracted driving.

Having a blowout and losing control is an accident. Not seeing a stop sign is a mistake, but knowingly seeing that sign and blowing through it is a violation. That’s what using a cell phone driving is. We see so many tragic accidents and the headline usually reads “... crossed the center line for an unknown reason...’ or “left the road for an unknown reason...” etc. It is just a matter of time before your family member, your friend, you, me or anybody else gets hurt or killed due to somebody being on their phone while driving. This scares me more than driving at night while looking for an impaired driver, and is probably more likely that I am taken out by a distracted driver. It’s rampant and it needs to be addressed.

I know the CCSO is busy and stretched thin. But in my view, I’d rather see a deputy issuing a ticket to a cell phone driver than arrest a drug user. The drug user isn’t going to impact my family, the cell phone driver may very well.

Forty-two cell phone tickets in a single year is unacceptable to me personally, less than one ticket a week. I’d love to see 1,000 tickets, and zero warnings, and much higher fines as some communities have. Zero tolerance. I don’t believe anybody stupid enough to operate a 4,000 lb. piece of steel that is on their phone deserves a warning. The grace period should be over. I want the police to police and not worry about being folks friends by issuing warnings. Tickets change behavior, warnings less so. I’ve gotten plenty of tickets, all deservedly, and I changed my behavior.

Police critics are going to say this: “But we see police on their phones.” I am sure there are times you may see a deputy on their cell phone. But having called for service before, I know at times the deputies have given out their personal phone in case you need to reach them, for whatever reason, and so I believe there are very legitimate reasons why a deputy may be on their phone.

I want to thank the CCSO entire force for what they do daily, but at the same time ask for a rethinking of how they are dealing with the biggest menace on our county roads. I’ll be the first to happily pay my fine if you see me on a phone.

Thank you.

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