North Idaho police use school bus to catch texting drivers

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — A school bus roaming the streets of Moscow this week has been a cover for police officers looking to catch traffic violations.

Members of the Moscow Police Department, Idaho State Police and Latah County Sheriff’s Department rode in the bus that was equipped with a video camera, and radio, The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported ( ). Officers were particularly interested in catching drivers who were texting and driving, which is illegal in Idaho.

When a driver was seen committing a traffic violation such as texting while driving, the bus-riding officers would radio a patrol car in the area and then a traffic stop would be made.

ISP Sgt. Rich Adamson said the bus was used because people didn’t expect officers to be inside and it also gave the officers a higher vantage point to see into cars. Adamson said he got the idea from a national highway safety summit earlier this year and proposed the tactic to Moscow police.

Cpl. Travis Hight said it is often hard to cite a driver for texting because the law is poorly worded. He said the law says a driver cannot text, which includes reading, typing or sending messages, but doesn’t exclude looking at a phone to select music.

According to police brochures, sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. That means a driver could drive the length of a football field blind if they were traveling at 55 mph.

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