From his office, chief thanks drivers for not texting

From his office, chief thanks drivers for not texting

Smithfield Police Chief Richard St. Sauveur put out a sign on the police station lawn thanking drivers who pulled over in front of the police station to take phone calls or text.

SMITHFIELD – When Smithfield Police Chief Richard St. Sauveur began looking out his window and seeing cars pull over in front of the police station, he said he wasn’t sure what was going on.

“You have to understand that my office windows are right in the front there. I watch people pull over and text and use their phone,” he said.

Now, after months of watching dozens of cars parked in the pull-off in front of the station, located at 215 Pleasant View Ave., St. Sauveur is thanking people for his daily distraction.

“The alternate is driving while using the phone. It’s unlawful, it’s illegal, and it’s unsafe,” St. Sauveur said.

There is a large turning lane in front of the station on the northern traveling lane of Pleasant View Avenue. There, he sees about a dozen cars pull over every day so drivers can use their phones while parked instead of driving.

“I don’t know why they’ve chosen that spot, but I appreciate that they do that,” the chief said.

The Valley Breeze & Observer reported in July on the top reasons for tickets being handed out in Smithfield, with phone violations coming in third overall behind speeding and registration violations. According to the data provided then, local police issued 177 tickets for phone violations from January to the middle of June, or 10 percent of the total. Tickets for disobeying traffic devices was next, at 162 total violations.

St. Sauveur posted a sign outside his office window thanking people for deciding to pull over to talk on the phone or text. The “hands-free” law against using mobile devices while driving still isn’t being followed by the majority of drivers, said the chief.

“There are so many motorists that still don’t obey the law,” St. Sauveur.

“It amazes me how many people continue to have phones up to their ears when they’re driving or even down by their knees when they’re driving,” he said.

St. Sauveur speculated that people have become so addicted to their phones that using it at a traffic light or while waiting in traffic is second nature.

“People are so addicted to their phone that the phone is more important (than) their safety and the safety of others,” he said.

“I think it’s simply gotten worse and people are more addicted to their phones,” he added.

The chief said his administrative assistant notices the pull-overs as well. He said the sign is too small to be read by drivers traveling down Pleasant View Avenue and can really only be seen if a car is stopped.

“I am very grateful to those who make that decision to make that call on the side of the road,” the chief said.