Feds’ scheme: have cops peer down into cars from overpasses

by Walter Olson on October 18, 2012

Politico quotes me on the latest harebrained idea from the U.S. Department of Transportation, known for Secretary Ray LaHood’s crusade against “distracted driving”:

Olson called the idea that law enforcement would be focused on using spotters perched atop overpasses “creepy” and suggested it turns police officers into “peeping toms.”

“We drive under [overpasses], so it’s not a perfect expectation of privacy; but if we saw someone staring down and hoping to look into our laps, we’d think of them as creepy,” Olson said.

Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, which has been out front of the effort to curb distracted driving, scoffed at the notion that there is any expectation of privacy in a car.

Earlier here, etc.

{ 6 comments }

1 No Name Guy 10.18.12 at 7:59 pm

I have a sun roof. I guess it’ll be open and I’ll be engaging in…uhhhh…”international relations” (as “Maverick” said in Top Gun) with said peeping toms on the bridge. [Insert picture of "Goose" flipping the bird for illustrative purposes.]

2 Stella Baskomb 10.18.12 at 8:15 pm

Why assign federal agents to this?

Just interview a random sample of big-rig truckers.

They’re all looking down into cars anyway at least when there’s a woman in the car.

3 ras 10.18.12 at 10:25 pm

Would a car w/tinted windows be a reasonable expectation of privacy? Don’t, for ex, the President’s cars have such windows for just such reasons? Don’t celebrities’ cars and private limos have them as well, again for privacy?

4 wfjag 10.19.12 at 4:06 pm

Each time I read about this idea, I have a vision of Jabba The Hut leering down at Princess Leia in her gold bikini.

5 Scott 10.19.12 at 7:28 pm

From my motorcycle I easily see many distracted drivers everyday. You just pull up close at a stoplight. Wait for the driver to pick up cell phone. As soon as the light turns green and they drive off, still looking at cell phone, pull them over. No overpass needed. GoPro attached to the helmet can provide court room evidence.

6 Richard Console 10.22.12 at 12:51 pm

To echo what Scott is saying I’m positive it’s just as easy to spot distracted drivers from street level than it is from an overpass – not to mentioned 1 police officer can spot, and apprehend a distracted driver from the road where it might take 2 officers to spot, then radio in the suspect to an officer on the ground.

Even with the strict cell phone laws in NJ and PA I still see people using their phones without a hands-free handset daily – and it’s definitely not just the young drivers to blame.

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