Utah troopers launch new program to crack down on distracted driving

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah drivers beware, Troopers may see you even if you don’t see them.

“It’s not necessarily an ambush,” said Lt. Beau Mason with Utah Highway Patrol.

Mason makes reference to a new program UHP launched this summer in hopes of catching unsuspecting distracted drivers.

The strategy involves a black transit van with at least two spotters sitting inside. One spotter on the left, another on the right to identify drivers.

“We are going to have roughly 10 troopers in marked patrol cars in close proximity to the van,” Lt. Mason said. “The van will be driving, identifying these drivers and calling it out to the troopers, and they will be conducting the traffic stops in any way they see fit.”

In a previous run-through, a team of five troopers pulled over 40 cars in two hours. UHP says they see the most distracted driving during the rush-hour time periods, when speeds slow and people feel more comfortable texting.

If you’re looking for the UHP black van out on the highway during the summer months, you may be wasting your time. UHP says they will use anything from unmarked cars, to semi trucks, to school buses, as highway patrol teams in other states have done.

UHP wouldn’t specify what kind of penalties drivers will face if pulled over because the operation goes through Utah, Salt Lake, and Davis counties, and each county has different penalties.