Police dress up as construction workers to catch distracted drivers

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Some drivers call it sneaky, but one metro police department says going undercover is an effective way to bust drivers texting, tweeting or checking emails behind the wheel.

Marietta Police dressed up as a construction crew at a busy Cobb County intersection Wednesday to catch distracted drivers in the act.

Most drivers paid no attention to the road crew working at Cobb Parkway at Roswell Road, but the crew wasn't radioing in survey readings -- they were busting distracted drivers.

[READ: Cop claims he's issued nearly 800 tickets for texting and driving]

“What we've done here is we're able to put officers in the roads so we're able to get close enough almost inside their cars so we can look down and see exactly what they're doing on their phones,” said Marietta police Officer Nick Serkedakis.

Police say making good distracted driving cases are tough because it is often challenging to figure out exactly what the driver is doing in the car. This way, their cases are much stronger.

"It doesn't matter if you're stopped at a light, if you're on a public thoroughfare and facing the phone we're going to have a conversation with you,” Serkedakis said.

[READ: Know your rights: Drivers willingly hand over incriminating evidence]

Many pulled over couldn't believe they were getting busted while sitting at a light, so police had to spend time explaining the law to some skeptics.

“Anytime you're in the road, in the roadway, you're in gear and in control of the roadway. Even reading it falls under the code section as well,” one officer told a driver.

"If you're driving and texting and driving and trying to read (that’s a problem), but if you're situated and stopped just trying to confirm an address, I don't think that's a problem,” said driver Al Morrison, who was pulled over by officers Wednesday.

The tickets are $150 and one point on your license. Police say texting and driving is a growing problem that needs to stop.

"I really think this is the DUI of the future. Impairment is still a problem, but this distracted driving is killing as many people as drunk drivers,” Serkedakis said.

Drivers didn’t give them a second look, but these workers were actually Marietta officers radioing to patrol cars up ahead.

Posted by WSB-TV on Wednesday, July 29, 2015