Troopers use unmarked van to look for distracted drivers

Jun 27, 2018, 2:53 PM | Updated: Jun 28, 2018, 10:47 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Using an unmarked passenger van driving up and down Salt Lake County’s freeways, troopers with the Utah Highway Patrol on Wednesday conducted a crackdown on distracted driving.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a black, 16-passenger van traveled along I-15, I-215, and I-80 looking for drivers manipulating their cell phones. Once a trooper inside the van noticed a distracted driver, they would radio to nearby troopers to make the traffic stop.

“During the 100 deadliest days of summer we know that distraction is a problem,” said Highway Patrol Lt. Todd Royce.

A Utah Highway Patrol trooper watches out the window of an unmarked van for distracted drivers along Interstate 15 in Salt Lake County.

This type of operation requires about a dozen troopers to work either inside the van as spotters, or on motorcycles or in police cruisers stationed along the interstates. While they will be issuing tickets, Lt. Royce says the goal is to spread the message about the dangers of distracted driving and changing driving habits.

“We’re hoping people just comply with the law,” he said. “We hope people just say, ‘Hey, I’ve got a problem with texting and driving and I have a problem with cell phones. I’m going to put it away.’”

The operation is also a good time to inform the public about what is allowed with a cell phone while behind the wheel.

“A phone up to your ear is not against the law,” Lt. Royce explained. “It’s the manipulation of the phone.”

The Utah Highway Patrol uses this 16-passenger van so that troopers can sit up high and look into vehicles traveling nearby.

Troopers say when they used to pull people over for distracted driving they would hear a lot of excuses. Now, they’re hearing more admissions from drivers that they need to put their phones away.

In 2016, there were more than 5,700 crashes in Utah that were attributed to distracted driving, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety. More than half of those crashes, 54 percent, were rear-end collisions.

“We’ve had serious injuries. We’ve had fatalities,” Lt. Royce said of accidents involving cell phone distractions. “We’ve had instances where we will have a fatal crash and the person will literally throw their phone out the window trying to get rid of any evidence.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Latest News

SUV "mangled" in crash. (Salt Lake City Police Department)...
Brooke Williams

Man injured and SUV ‘mangled’ in crash with semi-truck

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City Police remind community of safe driving habits after a high speed crash injured a 65-year-old man Saturday morning. Police received multiple calls at 8:42 a.m. reporting a crash involving a semi-truck and a “mangled” SUV near 800 N. 300 West. Officers investigated the scene while the Salt Lake City […]
11 days ago
President Joe Biden speaks during a press conference in the State Dinning Room at the White House o...
JOSH BOAK and COLLEEN LONG Associated Press

Biden signs $1T infrastructure deal into law with bipartisan crowd celebrating

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden signed his hard-fought $1 trillion infrastructure deal into law Monday before a bipartisan, celebratory crowd on the White House lawn, declaring that the new infusion of cash for roads, bridges, ports and more is going to make life “change for the better” for the American people. But prospects are […]
11 months ago
Mike Anderson, KSL TV

Fire chief concerned about safety along stretch of I-84

The Mountain Green fire chief is calling for safety improvements along what he believes is an extremely dangerous stretch of I-84. He says his department deals with frequent crashes there.
11 months ago
Medical staff attend to COVID-positive patients in the ICU ward at the Holy Family hospital on May ...
Ladd Egan, KSL TV

‘We’re in a crisis’: Utah’s ICU beds above functionally full level

The Utah Hospital Association said the state’s health care system is once again in a crisis situation as intensive care units fill up with sick COVID-19 patients.
1 year ago
Garna Mejia, KSL TV

Gov. Cox reaffirms Utah’s commitment to Afghan refugees

With a humanitarian crisis unraveling in Afghanistan, many Utahns are stepping up to help. Today Governor Spencer Cox reaffirmed his commitment to resettle refugees.
1 year ago
Jed Boal, KSL TV

‘I have really significant concerns’: Doctors worry as school starts, delta variant surges

As the number of new Covid cases in Utah, and across the country continues to surge, medical researchers at University of Utah Health warn that the situation will continue to get worse. That’s what they see in today’s numbers.
1 year ago

Sponsored Articles

young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
Troopers use unmarked van to look for distracted drivers