Nightly News | November 19, 2012
>>> we have talked a lot about distracted driving, much of it because public officials and law enforcement have identified it as such a danger on our roads. now, however, police officers are under watch for distracted driving. if you have looked at the issue of distracted driving then you know what is competing for their attention on the road. it has grave dangers, fair warning , some of them you're about to see in graphic fashion. our report tonight from nbc's tom costello.
>> reporter: near ft. worth, dash cam video of a police officer running the red light and the crash that injured the other driver. the officer admitted he had been looking at his computer. in austin, another officer slammed into a motorcyclist. the officer told his supervisor he had been typing. while 39 states have banned the texting while driving, police are an exception. from fender benders , to fatal accidents, cops have gotten the blame gotten the blame. investigator scott freedman spent months digging through accident files.
>> and we found that these crashes with the police officers are happening at a rate of about two or three a month in texas.
>> reporter: a recent study in minnesota found 17% of accidents there involved distracted police officers in there is a radio, a cell phone, , with email. the computer that constantly updates calls, sending and receiving messages, and a camera watching everything. in fort wayne , indiana, where the police fender benders are on the rise?
>> it is dangerous, so have i had close calls? i have, and i've been lucky.
>> reporter: the chief decided it was all too much.
>> i felt we were setting officers up by putting all of this technology in the car and expecting them not to use that while they're moving.
>> reporter: he has ordered all 360 cars to be fitted with a computer system that freezes the keys once the car exceeds 15 miles an hour.
>> i can't change the screen, it doesn't function other departments are ordering officers to pull over before using computers.
>> every police department who says they don't have a problem with distracted driving or crashes has their head in the sand.
>> reporter: the challenge? avoiding the very distractions that come with modern policing. tom costello, nbc news, washington.