L.A. County sheriff's deputies told to reduce computer use while driving

New L.A. sheriff's policy limits deputies' use of computers while driving

To cut down on distracted driving, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies have been ordered to rely primarily on radios rather than dashboard computers.

The new policy, issued on Feb. 25, had been in the works for almost a year in response to distracted-driving accidents, including one in which a deputy killed a bicyclist while tapping out a reply message to another deputy.

Before the change, deputies frequently used the computers as they drove, running motorists’ license plate numbers or logging their own activities, among other things.

The old policy already stated that radios should be the main form of communication behind the wheel. The new policy clarifies that deputies should not use the computers for administrative tasks, such as updating records or messaging colleagues, other than in an emergency or when the car is parked.

In declining to bring criminal charges against the deputy who fatally struck the bicyclist in Calabasas in December 2013, prosecutors noted that police officers are exempt from the state law banning the use of wireless electronic devices while driving.

For more news on the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, follow @cindychangLA. She can also be reached at cindy.chang@latimes.com.

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