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Brookline Police Pull Over Dozens In Distracted Driving Awareness Campaign

BROOKLINE (CBS) -- Brookline Police are cracking down on distracted drivers in a program that uses plainclothes officers to nab motorists on their phones.

They look like regular Boston sports fans, wearing Patriots and Bruins gear, but these officers are spotting drivers who are breaking the law.

"What we're looking for is people who are distracted while they're driving, and were trying to educate them," said Brookline Police Sgt. Robert Disario.

After these undercover officers spot a distracted driver, uniformed officers arrive to make contact.

distracted driving sting brookline
The pamphlet handed out by Brookline Police to educate drivers about distracted driving. (WBZ-TV)

"We're giving them a copy of the law and issuing them a written warning," said Lt. Philip Harrington of the department's Community Service Division.

"We're not trying to write fines for the sake of writing fines," says Sgt. Disario. "Our end goal is to reduce traffic crashes and reduce the amount of distracted driving."

Sgt. Disario said he often sees drivers on Facebook or Instagram as well as texting, and reminds them that those count, too.

"The biggest one I've seen is email," he said. "A lot of people think that if they scroll through their email and they delete messages, that's not a violation. It is in fact a violation ... Even speech to text is something that people are doing now. You're still composing a message. You're distracted, and that's a violation."

distracted driving sting brookline
Officers write warnings for drivers caught using their devices while driving. (WBZ-TV)

Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road when you're texting, and in that time, you're usually looking up and down. Officers say that is exactly what they look for.

One of the drivers pulled over was Viral Kansara, who said he had no idea the person who caught her was a plainclothes police officer.

"It was a little scary and eye opening I guess," he said. "I was caught by surprise, but I hope this will make a difference."

Brookline Police said they pulled over nearly 70 drivers during a three-day span of the operation, and said they'll continue the program through September.

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