A couple times a year, police in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, crack down on distracted drivers. Thursday, they had bicycle officers riding between rows of stopped cars looking for texters and pulling them over.
"I shouldn't have," said Kyle Smythe of Pembroke, Massachusetts, who was caught, phone in hand, by officer Steve Golbranson. "I don't have a good excuse."
The department doesn't do it for the money, but because it's dangerous.
"They compare it to being legally intoxicated," said West Bridgewater Police Chief Victor Flaherty. "The reaction time is the same. It's an epidemic."
The National Safety Council says nearly 330,000 people a year are hurt in accidents caused by texting drivers, and one in four accidents is caused by texting behind the wheel.
"We're not seeing a dropoff in the amount of people texting," said Flaherty. "We're seeing an increase. Those individuals that were in the texting era, I call them, they're now about 25, 26. They're the original texters out here but now they've graduated. Their parents are now texting, their grandparents are now texting, so it's really become a serious serious issue."
Cell phone use like checking your GPS is not illegal. But get caught texting while driving, and that's a $105 ticket.
That ticket does not get reported to your insurance company, so you might call this a warning that hurts a bit. And that's the idea.