New York has provided its state police 32 tall unmarked sports utility vehicles so they can more easily peer in on motorists who might be texting while driving.

From the Associated Press/News 12 Hudson Valley:

Even for a state trooper, it’s not easy to spot drivers who are texting. Their smartphones are down on their laps, not at their ears. And they’re probably not moving their lips.

That’s why New York has given state police 32 tall, unmarked SUVs to better peer down at drivers’ hands, part of one of the nation’s most aggressive attacks on texting while driving that also includes steeper penalties and dozens of highway “Texting Zones,” where motorists can pull over to use their devices.

“Look at that,” Trooper Clayton Howell says, pulling alongside a black BMW while patrolling the highways north of New York City. “This guy’s looking down. I can see his thumb on the phone. I think we got him.”

After a quick wail of the siren and a flash of the tucked-away flashers, an accountant from the suburbs is pulled over and politely given a ticket.

They’re called Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement (CITE) vehicles, and they apparently come in different colors “so they blend in with traffic,” according to CBS News NY.

As we covered previously, New York recently implemented “texting zones” along many of the state’s major roadways – giant blue text stop road signs with messages like “it can wait.”  It’s all part of the state’s crackdown against use of a hand-held mobile telephone or texting while driving, with published fines that range from $50 to $400 depending upon whether or not it’s a repeat offense.

And apparently it’s not just texting that could get you nabbed by a peering law enforcement authority, according to the AP/News12 Hudson Valley.

The accountant who was ticketed, Chris Pecchia, of Montrose, told Howell he hadn’t been texting but rather was looking at a map displayed on his phone. He was cited anyway, for driving while using a portable electronic device.

“His story’s believable, but even a GPS has to be hands-free,” Howell said.

Pecchia said afterward: “I can’t look at a map? What’s the difference between looking at a paper map and looking at a map on the phone?”

Still, he said, he understood why the trooper pulled him over. He said he would never text while driving and has forbidden his 17-year-old daughter from doing so.

So the next time you’re driving the highways in New York state, don’t be alarmed if a random SUV swings around your car and starts peering in on you.  It just might be the texting police. Literally.


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