Cops posing as panhandlers target texting drivers
San Bernardino police officers posing as homeless people on roadways busted a number of distracted drivers Monday. (Photo: WTSP-TV)

San Bernardino police officers posing as homeless people on roadways busted a number of distracted drivers Monday.

The undercover officers stood on the roadside at various strategic locations with cardboard signs, but instead of an appeal for food or money, the signs read "SB Police" with arrows pointing up at their heads. "I am not homeless - Looking for seat belt and cellphone violations."

Of course, drivers who were busy looking down and texting on their phones didn't notice... and they got busted, to the tune of $162 tickets -- or $285 for second offenses.

In two hours, police stopped 54 people and gave 39 tickets for distracted driving, according to San Bernardino Police Detective Devin Peck.

According to federal statistics:

  • At any given moment during the day, about 660,000 drivers are using cellphones or manipulating electronic devices while driving -- a virtually unchanged statistic since 2010.

  • You're three times more likely to get into a collision while reaching for a phone, or from dialing or texting associated with handheld phones.

  • Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting; at 55 mph, that's equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.

  • Research shows talking on a headset is not substantially safer than holding the phone in your hand. Answering, dialing and other phone tasks are still risk factors with headset use.

  • In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers; 424,000 were injured.

San Bernardino is a city about 63 miles east of Los Angeles.

SOURCES: CBS News, Distraction.gov

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