Look who's talking

Look who's talking

A recent law-enforcement experiment proved to be as easy as taking candy from a baby.

Police officers in Swansea and Fairview Heights, Illinois communities located near St. Louis, set up a ticket trap a couple weeks ago to make a point about distracted drivers.

A lookout, who set up on a corner near Illinois 159 and Frank Scott Parkway, was searching for drivers using cellphones. When he spotted one, the lookout notified nearby patrol officers to make a traffic stop.

They issued 39 tickets in two hours. The other important statistic is the area that drew police attention has been the location of 65 accidents since 2015.

The police crackdown on distracted drivers was part of an Illinois State Police program designed to raise the profile of this traffic safety problem.

From April 24-28, troopers issued 1,146 distracted-driving tickets and another 984 distracted-driving warnings.

With the advent of new technology has come a new reason for traffic accidents. Millions of motorists talk on their cellphones — or even worse, text on them — every day in this country. That leads to hundreds of accidents, some minor and others extremely serious.

If ever there was an easy solution to a traffic safety problem, this is it. Motorists ought to smarten up, using their cellphones carefully and briefly behind the wheel, if they must, and not texting at all.

But too many people think they're immune to problems caused by their own carelessness. They insist on learning the hard way.

That's what the recent ISP intervention was all about.

Will it make any difference? Probably not.

All people have to do when they're on the road is look around. They'll see one motorist after another talking on a cellphone while driving. State troopers could generate a fortune in revenues for county government if they made their one-week experiment a permanent high priority.

That's not to suggest they should. The heavy hand of law enforcement is not something to be taken lightly. That's why so many object to allowing law officers to pull people over for seat belt violations and distracted driving issues.

Those kinds of interactions represent one more assault on people's right to be left alone.

Then again, distracted drivers who cause accidents are doing their own version of violating others' right to be left alone.

It's a conundrum, one that could be solved if more motorists would use common sense when they have the urge to call or text when behind the wheel. Unfortunately, common sense isn't all that common. At least, that's what the recent law enforcement experiment demonstrated.

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