Maryland

Md. Trooper in Disguise Stops Dozens of Distracted Drivers

State troopers saw people reading books as they drove

See that man standing by the side of the road with a bucket? He could be a police officer checking to see if you're texting and driving.

A Maryland State Police trooper in disguise helped stop dozens of distracted drivers on Tuesday. Chopper4 footage showed the operation set up along an on-ramp to I-270 in Gaithersburg.

A man with a plastic bucket stood by a road sign holding a plastic bucket. In the bucket, he had a police radio. Every time he saw a distracted driver, he alerted other troopers waiting further down the road.

What did the bucket man see?

"Anything from talking on the cellphones, texting, scrolling through the cellphones. I saw three drivers that actually had books on their steering wheel area, and they were reading a book as they were driving," he said. News4 agreed not to reveal his identity.

In just two hours, state troopers stopped more than 120 cars.

About 30,000 crashes occurred in Maryland last year because drivers were distracted, police said. Every second with your eyes off the road counts. If you look at your cellphone for five seconds going 55 mph, you travel the distance of a football field, Capt. Dan Pickett said.

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"Just think how much distance that is. If somebody stops abruptly in front of you, if somebody changes lanes in front of you, you can't respond quick enough," he said.

The fine for a distracted driving in Maryland is $81 for the first offense. In D.C. you're looking at $100. And in Virginia, it's $125.

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