Georgia police officers pose as construction workers to catch people texting and driving
Authorities in Georgia have resorted to a sneaky tactic to catch drivers engaging in dangerous behavior behind the wheel.
Officers with the Cobb County Police Department, Acworth Police Department and Kennesaw Police Department took to roadsides across the state dressed up as construction workers Tuesday to catch citizens using their phones while driving, WSB-TV reports.
"They're looking for direct violations," Sydney Melton, with the Cobb County Police Department, told the station. "So, this can be someone texting on their phone or people playing on social media."
Many of the undercover officers involved in the "hands-free" mission were dressed in traffic-sign yellow gear, while some held surveying gear to try and look the part.
Still, their garb didn't fool everyone. One driver told WSB-TV they approached the group with a great deal of skepticism, only to have their suspicions confirmed.
"I asked them, 'What are you guys working?'" the driver recalled. "And they said, 'Survey.' Then I said, 'Come on now, you're not tricking me.'"
In total, officers involved in the operation issued 65 citations for cell phone violations, as well as 16 seatbelt violations, seven license violations, 13 other citations and even one arrest, WAGA reports.
Distracted driving, defined as engaging in any activity that diverts one's attention from the road, is dangerous and often proves deadly. The behavior claimed 3,166 lives in 2017 alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Texting while behind the wheel is one of the most alarming forms of distracted driving, according to the agency. It compares the act of taking one's eyes off the road for five seconds to send or read a message while driving at approximately 55 mph to driving the length of an entire football field with one's eyes closed.
Georgia's "Hands-Free Law," which went into effect on July 1, 2018, was designed to combat distracted driving by creating steeper penalties and fines for those found engaging in the dangerous behavior.
The Georgia State Patrol handed out tickets to almost 25,000 violators during the law's first year in effect, WSB-TV reports.