Cpl. Bart Doerr radios to one of two RCMP vehicles assisting him as he patrols the roundabout on Highway 5 on foot and in plain clothes on Monday morning. Purpose of the unconventional campaign was to catch drivers using cellphones or without their seatbelts

 Cpl. Bart Doerr radios to one of two RCMP vehicles assisting him as he patrols the roundabout on Highway 5 on foot and in plain clothes on Monday morning. Purpose of the unconventional campaign was to catch drivers using cellphones or without their seatbelts

Police go plain clothes to catch distracted drivers

Cpl. Bart Doerr stood in the center of the roundabout on Highway 5 in Clearwater and watched for drivers using cellphones

Clearwater RCMP Traffic Services conducted an unconventional campaign against distracted drivers on Monday morning, Feb. 24.

Cpl. Bart Doerr, dressed in plain clothes and carrying a small backpack, stood in the center of the roundabout on Highway 5 in Clearwater and watched for drivers using cellphones or without their seatbelts done up.

He was also seeking to educate drivers about the rules for using the roundabout, and enforcing the rules, if necessary.

Two vehicles were parked nearby to stop violators after they had been identified by Doerr.

“We have to do it this way,” the corporal said. “If people see a marked police car, they just drop their phones.”

The unconventional campaign got results.

After only about two hours, eight or nine drivers were stopped for seatbelt violations, and about three for driving while using a cellphone.

Police across the province are targeting distracted driving this month, Doerr said.

It is one of the major causes of collisions.

“When you’re texting, you are so distracted it’s as if you are seriously impaired,” he said.

During the two hours, three vehicles turned left into the roundabout, going the wrong way around it.

One woman used some strong language when he tried to stop her, Doerr said.

She was more polite after he identified himself as a police officer.

People should slow down when they approach the roundabout, he said.

They should yield to vehicles already in the roundabout.

It is not necessary to signal when entering the roundabout, but it is necessary to signal when leaving it.

People should not stop once in the roundabout, as they have the right-of-way.

Going undercover at the roundabout proved to be an effective technique, Doerr felt.

People paid him no notice and passed with five feet of him, talking on their cellphones or not wearing their seatbelts.

The majority of people stopped were from out of town, but there were also a few locals.

Similar road check campaigns will be conducted in Little Fort and elsewhere, he warned.