Calgary police to use covert spotters to catch distracted drivers

Sneaky drivers who send text messages at stop lights, beware. The cops have a new way to catch you.

‘We’re going to start clamping down in another way,’ says Staff Sgt. Paul Stacey

'We know that the problem still exists in a very big way,' says Staff Sgt. Paul Stacey with the Calgary police traffic section. (Getty Images)

If you're one of those sneaky drivers who sends text messages while you're waiting at a stop light, beware.

Calgary police have a new way to catch you.

"People are going to be seen and they won't know it until they're pulled over. And as crafty as they think they are they're still going to get a ticket," Staff Sgt. Paul Stacey with the Calgary police traffic section told the Calgary Eyeopener on Friday.

He said there will be spotters at intersections in both plain clothes and uniform. If they see you texting, they'll radio your licence plate and car model over to another officer farther down the road.

"And then we'll pull those people over and issue them tickets," said Stacey.

The penalty for distracted driving is a $287 fine and three demerit points.

Not surprisingly, Stacey is keeping mum about where these spotters will be stationed.

Staff Sgt. Paul Stacey says police are deploying new tactics to catch people who text behind the wheel. (CBC)

'Clamping down in another way'

Calgary police are expecting to issue fewer distracted driving tickets in 2016 compared to 2015.

Stacey said last year, officers handed out approximately 8,000 total — but this year, only about 5,500 have been issued between January and the end of September.

"I mean, on its face you would say that's a good thing because that means people are doing it less — but I don't believe that thing for a second, I'm seeing it continuously," he said.

"We know that the problem still exists in a very big way. We see a lot more of it when we're driving our own personal vehicles than we tend to when we're driving the police vehicles … so we're going to start clamping down in another way."

Stacey said "many, many" crashes are still caused by distracted drivers which means people are still not taking the law seriously.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener


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