Early one morning, Robert Huttinger, 25, ending his shift as a commercial driver in Nashville, he sent a few cell phone text messages to a buddy. His minivan drifted off the road and he was killed in the wreck, says The Tennessean. Starting today, police are using unmarked SUVs as text patrollers, peering down at drivers and ticketing those who just can't disconnect.
The SUVs, many of which were seized from drug cases, are used by specialized detectives like the department's gang unit. Tennessee outlawed texting while driving in 2009, making it a $50 fine. Enforcing the new law has proved difficult. The Tennessee Highway Patrol gave out 54 tickets for texting while driving in 2009, the year the law began, and an additional 171 in 2010. Metro police have doled out 44 texting tickets since the law started. Police say it's hard to spot texters on the road. Dialing and talking on a phone is legal. Texting, cruising the Web and reading e-mails is not. Telling the difference can be hard, particularly from patrol cars.