Montgomery Co. police step up efforts to crack down on distracted driving

BETHESDA, Md. — A mobile sign a mile up the road urged drivers to “park their phone,” but despite the warning, many wound up with tickets for handling their cellphone while behind the wheel during the morning rush Wednesday.

The enforcement effort on River Road in Bethesda, Maryland, at the intersection with Goldsboro Road, coincides with Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

“We are stepping up our enforcement for distracted driving, and you will see more this month,” says Sgt. Phillip Chapin with Montgomery County Police.

While police are on the lookout for violations year round, Chapin says officers are less likely to give out warnings this month, and more likely to give out tickets.

During Wednesday’s operation, an officer disguised in construction gear acted as a spotter. He used his radio to tell officers ahead on foot, who signaled for drivers to pull over as they approached the intersection.

Chapin says 25 drivers were given tickets for holding a cellphone, a violation that comes with an $83 fine but no points. He says nine drivers got tickets for texting while driving, which brings a $70 fine and one point.

“We probably let a good number go, too,” Chapin says, because it was not safe for officers to step into the roadway to flag the cars down.

Although it was not the focus of this event, many drivers were stopped for driving on the shoulder to get to a turn lane.

Chapin says efforts were made to minimize the traffic impact in the area, and that some drivers were happy to see the effort.

“Several people clapped their hands as they go by us. They give us thumbs up,” he says. “They know that it’s a safety issue and they appreciate what we’re trying to do.”

John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP.

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