Police take higher approach to citing distracted drivers

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The majority of drivers in the U.S. understand how dangerous it is to get distracted by driving. However, many people also choose to ignore these risks and decide that they can quickly send a text or read an email behind the wheel without anyone getting hurt. However, texting alone has reportedly been a factor in about 1.6 million car accidents in the country.

It has long been an issue for police officers to cite drivers for texting and driving. Many drivers conceal their phones or claim that they were dialing their phone if a police officer approaches a driver about texting. Tennessee state law states that while there is no ban on using a handheld cellphone behind the wheel, all drivers are banned from texting while driving. Unfortunately, enforcing this law has proven to be quite challenging.

Police officers in Tennessee are taking a new approach to catching drivers who are texting while driving. They have launched a new campaign called Stay Alive on 75, which is aimed at stopping drivers from engaging in distracting behaviors behind the wheel. According to reports, the police are using a tractor trailer to get a better view of the drivers around them. Officers riding in the semi truck observe other motorists and if they see a driver texting, they alert a trooper who is in a regular police car further down the road. That second officer can then conduct a traffic stop and issue a citation to the reckless driver.

This is a unique approach to identifying and ticketing drivers who continue to text while driving, even though most of them know how dangerous it is. At highway speeds, a driver who is looking at his or her phone for even a few seconds can travel the length of a football field without ever looking at the road. Hundreds of thousands of people are hurt in an accident caused by a texting driver every year. Hopefully, continuing education and enforcement efforts will work to discourage this reckless and dangerous behavior.

Source: WDEF, “Tenn. Highway Patrol To Crack Down On Distracted Drivers,” Webb Wright, March 16, 2013