Technology Can Lead To Distracted Driving Accidents..For Police, Too

Cell phones are often cited as the cause of many distracted driving accidents. At least one police force has changed its policy upon discovering that accidents were being caused by dashboard mounted computers. Many police vehicles all across the country are equipped with these computers. As states pass increasingly restrictive laws to eliminate the distraction of a cell phone, they are asking police officers to split their attention between highly challenging driving conditions and a computer mounted on the dashboard. Attention splitting is a dangerous practice and has been clearly established as a common cause of deadly car crashes.

After a television report identified 18 crashes in three years caused by police officers in a single department using their computers while driving, the Police Chief decided to change the written policy of that department. Unfortunately, the problem is much more widespread than that. The studies used to support text messaging bans apply equally to the use of a computer while driving. No amount of training makes it safe to operate a motor vehicle while typing on a computer. A policy that allows, or even encourages, such conduct is a danger to police officers, other motorists and pedestrians.

Distracted driving is a serious problem. The majority of states now have laws banning text messaging while driving, and more and more are considering complete cell phone bans for drivers. While a vehicle is in motion, drivers should not be allowed to split their attention between the road and a screen. When a driver is not watching the road, that driver is a safety hazard.

Source:, “Arlington Police Changing Driving Policy Following NBC 5 Investigation,” by Scott Friedman, 5 November 2012