Wyoming Highway Patrol recently posted about a driver so distracted that a police cruiser was able to get close enough alongside the rig to see a tablet propped up on the steering wheel. The truck, officers contend, had been observed drifting in and out of its lane at highway speeds.
This took place Sunday, March 4, on Interstate 80, a road where frankly any driver is lucky to pass after a series of serious closures in Wyoming left operators stranded and road crews run ragged trying to keep things clear. Throughout February, I-80 was on-again, off-again as crews would take as long as 13 hours to clear the highway, only to have a crash two hours later shut it back down.
"With the increasing amount of distracted driving incidents and crashes, we thought it was important to show a recent event caught by one of our troopers," WHP said in posting the video to its Facebook page.
The post that accompanied the video detailed the stop:
The trooper was behind the CMV driver and observed him failing to maintain the lane on multiple occasions. When the trooper got beside the driver, he could see a tablet propped on the steering wheel. A few seconds later the driver noticed the trooper and promptly put the tablet down, at which point a traffic stop and inspection was initiated.
Sgt. Jeremy Beck of the WHP said the cruiser had been following the truck for a while, and eventually decided to get a closer look at why exactly the tractor-trailer couldn't maintain its lane.
Beck said after the tablet was yanked away, a stop and inspection was conducted, wherein the driver was "cited for failure to maintain lane. ... Unfortunately we do see" a big problem with phones, tablets, and screens of all types leading to distracted driving. Beck added that, time to time, "troopers have even witnessed CMV drivers watching movies, which is very unfortunate."
Beck said that the state's long, straight, flat roads in some areas may lull drivers into thinking they have a moment to check an email or answer a text, but as you all no doubt are fully aware, that can have horrific ramifications.
"There's lot of wildlife in the area, and it only takes a brief moment or second to watch something other than the roadway for an animal to run out in front of you," said Beck. Given how bad even momentary lapses in attention can be, "what happens if you’re looking at a tablet and watching a movie?"
Though this incident took place near Rock Springs, away from the worst of I-80's infamous snow drifts, Beck still warned that "hazardous snow and ice-covered roads, or roads where snow and ice drift in and get flash-frozen to the road," create a deadly mix for drivers.
Speaking not just to professionals but all drivers, Beck summed everything quite succinctly: "Put the phone down," he said.
If a police cruiser rolling up alongside the cab goes unnoticed, what else are we missing?
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