22News Digital Reporter Monica Ricci went on a sting with Chicopee police Wednesday in search of people texting behind the wheel.
Did we catch you?
BE HONEST! Do you have a bad habit of texting and driving?— Monica Ricci (@MonicaWWLP) March 20, 2019
Dressed in plain clothes, Patrolman Mark Page walked up and down a median just off Memorial Drive looking for drivers paying more attention to their phones than the road and traffic light ahead.
Once he spotted a violator, Page would instruct the driver to pull over for the uniformed officers just 50 yards around the corner, where they then received a warning citation.
Within the first minute of the sting, a violator was caught. In just over an hour, 11 drivers in total were stopped and cited for texting and driving.
According to the officers who participated in the sting, most drivers were understanding– some even appreciative.
“Most of them were a little shocked to see us, but some people were actually happy to see us even though they were getting pulled over,” Page said. “They understand that this is a problem and they don’t want to be the person that strikes the pedestrian or a motorcyclist or another motor vehicle.”
Some drivers claimed they weren’t texting and driving– they were stopped at a red light. Either way, it’s still illegal.
“We’ve literally watched people go through an entire cycle of lights staying at the green light because they’re so consumed by the text,” Chicopee Police Officer Mike Wilk explained.
Others told officers Wednesday that they were checking Twitter, just holding their phone in their hand, or about to send a text.
2018 statewide statistics
Wednesday’s sting in Chicopee couldn’t come at a better time.
“Spring is coming, and motorcycles, children, schools going to be getting out… we’re making sure that these people do not get into serious accidents,” Page said.
According to data obtained by 22News from MassDOT, police issued 12,670 citations for texting and driving across the state.
Spring and summer months had the most violators:
- January: 548
- February: 835
- March: 1,063
- April: 1,307
- May: 1,337
- June: 1,132
- July: 1,297
- August: 1,258
- September: 1,306
- October: 915
- November: 916
- December: 756
Did you know?
If you have an iPhone with iOS 11 and later, you can set up automated text replies that alert people when you’re driving.
When the feature Do Not Disturb While Driving is on, your iPhone stays silent and the screen stays dark. If someone texts you, they receive an automatic reply letting them know you’re on the road. You can even customize the message that is sent out. If the message is important, the sender can type the word ‘urgent’ and you will be notified.
You can let Do Not Disturb While Driving turn on automatically, or add it to Control Center for quick access:
- Go to Settings > Control Center, then tap Customize Controls.
- Tap next to Do Not Disturb While Driving.
On an iPhone X or later, you can swipe down from the top-right corner of your screen and tap to turn the feature on or off. Or on an iPhone 8 or earlier, you can swipe up from the bottom of your screen and tap to turn the feature on or off.
You can also keep Do Not Disturb While Driving enabled on your teen’s phones by following the steps from Apple below:
- Go to Settings > Screen Time, then tap Turn on Screen Time.
- Tap Continue, then tap This is My Child’s iPhone. From here, you can follow the prompts to enable specific restrictions, or tap Not Now until you reach Content & Privacy.
- Tap Continue, then create a Parent Passcode.
- Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions and enter your parent passcode.
- Scroll down and tap Do Not Disturb While Driving, then tap Allow.