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Spotter van used to help UHP troopers target distracted drivers

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MURRAY — Utah Highway Patrol troopers had some extra eyes helping them Thursday as they conducted an operation targeting distracted drivers on I-15.

For only the second time at UHP, troopers employed spotters in a mostly-unmarked van to peer into cars and identify suspect driving behavior.

“Other states have done efforts similar to this with great success, and so we’re trying to find ways to combat the distracted driving and eliminate some of those crashes that are a result of that,” said UHP Lt. Beau Mason.

During the roughly four-hour operation that spanned from Davis County to Utah County, spotters in the van identified drivers who appeared to be manipulating their cell phones while behind the wheel, as well as those who appeared to exhibit other forms of distracted behavior.

“We’re just looking out for those violations and calling them out as we see them,” Mason said.

The spotters then radioed out to as many as eight troopers who were saturating the same area of the interstate.

A UHP spokesperson said the operation resulted in 40 stops and 33 distracted driving contacts.

Of those suspected distracted driving contacts, the spokesperson said 26 drivers received warnings and seven were cited.

Troopers also made six seat belt contacts and one stop for suspicion of driving under the influence, the spokesperson confirmed.

Trooper McCall Christensen said in his nearly five years at Utah Highway Patrol, drivers have only grown more distracted.

“I’ve seen people ‘Facebook Live-ing’ while they’re driving,” Christensen said.

He and other troopers urged drivers to behave behind the wheel.

“I mean, we all have places we need to go, we have things we need to do,” Christensen said. “Pay attention to the road. The phone can wait.”


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