Illinois State Police using a unique way to catch distracted drivers

Illinois State Police use a unique way to catch distracted drivers.

It's a simple mistake that can turn deadly in a matter of seconds - driving while distracted.

Now, Illinois State Police are cracking down on distracted drivers in a unique way.

They are driving up and down the interstates in semi trucks, looking for drivers who are either making calls or texting.

When spotted, drivers may be wondering how they are caught when they are pulled over seemingly at random.

"It has to do with highway safety. We need to make motorists understand how to operate around tractor trailers," President of Newman Carriers Joseph Newman said.

It's called Trooper in a Truck, which is a new program Illinois State Police has rolled out to help cut down on distracted driving.

"You shouldn't be texting and driving. You shouldn't be looking at that digital device while you're driving. Your hand should be on the wheel and watching the highway," Executive Director of the Illinois Trucking Association Matt Hart said.

Being in a semi truck, troopers can have a better line of vision into other semi trucks as well as commercial vehicles.

"Troopers are able to observe the violation take place and notify other police units ahead to stop the violator and take enforcement action," Aaron Fullington with the Illinois State Police said.

After noticing the driver who is on their phone, they will radio the car’s information to a trooper who is up ahead. They will then pull the vehicle over and give them a citation for driving while distracted.

On Thursday, the Illinois State Police are using a semi truck from Newman Carriers, who hope there will be an added emphasis on the dangers distracted driving can bring to the highway, specifically to semi trucks.

"I really hope that people put their cell phones down-- that's the big thing. Pay attention to what you're doing on the road. You're around an 80,000-pound vehicle. They're very dangerous; they cannot move like a car can move," Newman said.

The program is just three months old, but the Illinois State Police said they would like to see it eventually expand throughout the entire state.

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