Law enforcement in New York have added to their arsenal in the battle against distracted driving with a new, barely marked, Ghost Car.
Michael Wilson of the New York Times writes:
The car, a 2009 Crown Victoria, joined the fleet two months ago. It is not an unmarked police car, but rather a barely visibly marked police car. It bears all the same decals as a regular police car, but they are white, colorless, like the car itself. The markings really are noticeable only upon close inspection — and hardly noticeable at all, the thinking goes, to a driver who is calling in his pizza order.
Several states have banned texting, but not talking, behind the wheel. New York is among the states, including Connecticut and New Jersey, that have banned hand-held cellphone use while driving. But proving that someone is breaking those laws is tougher than writing them.
The goal of the ghost car is to make enforcement less difficult. The department did not want a fully unmarked car, because motorists can become spooked by what may seem to be a fake police officer pulling them over.
Who was responsible for the Ghost Car?
The idea came from Officer James O’Meara, 27, who holds a bachelor’s degree in graphic arts and computer design. “I heard about it,” Officer O’Meara said of the car’s white-on-white design, although he could not recall which department was involved. While “low profile” police cars — with no light rack on the roof — are widely used, it is unclear how common ghost cars are.
Uniformed officers drive Westchester’s ghost car, which, while intended to look like a taxi, down to its livery license plate, is clearly a police car when seen close up. “I thought you were a taxi” is commonly heard from drivers.