Israeli traffic police are now starting to use drones to catch reckless drivers on the road. They hope the footage can be used in prosecutions.
The drones hover 100 meters above the road, and they can track drivers that tailgate, move over lane markers and make other risky moves. It may also catch drivers who are on their phones, but the drones still can’t track the speed of the vehicles.
Seeing as phone use was the number one cause of car accidents in 2017, the drones may make some people think twice about picking up their phones while behind the wheel. The key word here is “may.”
My biggest question is: Will the drone’s evidence hold up in court? Just recently, a court threw out several traffic violation indictments over concerns that the automated speed cameras used by police weren’t accurate. I suppose video evidence of the vehicle violating traffic laws is hard to dispute, but if the drones eventually track speed, their accuracy may, too, come into question.
If their accuracy comes into question, the entire operation may have been a total waste of time and money.
And what about drunk drivers? If a drone catches a driver driving erratically, does it somehow notify police? A driver cannot be cited for driving while intoxicated if there’s no proof. Breathalyzers are the most common way for police to catch drunk drivers.
“This test uses your breath by analyzing its contents to detect the presence of alcohol,” says Tyler Flood & Associates.
Unless drones are given the authority to pull over drivers and administer a breathalyzer test, I don’t see them being useful in catching intoxicated drivers. They’re really only useful for catching drivers behaving recklessly or using their phones while behind the wheel.
But in Israel, you can be fined for doing a lot of things while driving, like holding a cup of coffee or adjusting your navigation system (even at a red light). The use of drones can certainly help catch more drivers who use their phones while behind the wheel, but that won’t do much to prevent an accident.
If police pull over someone who is using their phone while driving or driving erratically, the very act of pulling them over may prevent an accident. The use of drones will merely give the driver a fine. He or she can still carry on texting or talking while driving and wind up causing a fatal accident. The drone’s footage may prove the driver was on the phone, but nothing could have been done to prevent the accident. Had the police pulled over the driver, the driver may have put the phone away and avoided the accident.
While useful, drones will not be able to solve the root cause of the problem: drivers acting irresponsibly. Ultimately, it is up to drivers to consciously make the decision to not use a phone while driving. We can throw fines at them and put points on their license, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll stop doing it.