Those in trucking who want to pull out their hair when they see a law enforcement officer using a laptop computer while going down the road will soon be able to keep from going bald in one state.
Iowa Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Enforcement division officers are getting a new piece of equipment in patrol vehicles called Arch Angel. This is a combination of hardware and software designated to disable the laptop computer in a law enforcement vehicle when a predetermined speed is reached.
The Iowa DOT MVE is responsible for truck safety in the Hawkeye State, including running weigh stations and performing roadside inspections, among other duties.
The Arch Angel software constantly monitors the speed of the law enforcement vehicle. When that speed reaches or exceeds 15 mph, the software automatically disables or locks the laptop computer, key board, mouse, and touch screen.
While the computer is locked, critical applications continue to run ensuring that the physical location of the officer continues to be sent to other law enforcement officers so situational awareness is maintained. The officer is able to use one keystroke to call for help if necessary. In addition, the officer can view a statewide map showing the location of the emergency they are responding to and the position of other law enforcement officers in the area. Once the vehicle’s speed falls below 15 mph, the computer becomes active.
The Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement anticipates software installation and training will be completed and the system will be in use by Nov. 1.
“Distracted driving can contribute to crashes and other traffic problems, such as sudden stops, departing from your lane, and inconsistent speeds,” said MVE Chief Dave Lorenzen. “As a law enforcement agency, it is our duty to not only enforce laws related to those issues and be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
The use of law enforcement officers using laptops while driving is a common complaint in trucking because truck drivers are prohibited from such behavior, as well as texting and handheld phone use in most cases, while behind the wheel.